Wayne Rooney, former England captain and Manchester United’s all-time leading goalscorer, has turned down an offer to manage in Saudi Arabia in favor of returning home as the manager of Birmingham City. Rooney expressed his determination to demonstrate his managerial talents with Birmingham’s vast potential within English football.
Rooney’s arrival at the Championship club coincides with Tom Brady, the seven-time Super Bowl champion, who became a minority owner of Birmingham in August. Rooney is eager for Brady to share his insights with the squad, highlighting the value of having a supportive ownership group.
After a challenging stint with Derby County, marked by financial instability, Rooney looks forward to focusing on coaching without such concerns. He stated, “It will be nice to focus on the training sessions and games [by] having a team above me who I can have that trust in to make sure everything is right.” This trust, Rooney suggested, was lacking at his previous clubs.
Rooney, who signed a three-and-a-half-year contract to succeed John Eustace, started his role by conducting his first training session after arriving in Birmingham from Washington. Garry Cook, Birmingham’s CEO, has articulated the club’s ambition to become a football powerhouse under the ownership of their US investors.
Tom Wagner, the club’s chairman, mentioned the positive media impact generated by Tom Brady’s association with Birmingham, emphasizing the attention the club has garnered. Rooney drew parallels with the trajectories of Manchester City and Newcastle when discussing Birmingham’s potential to become a significant football story in the coming years. He believes that neutrals will closely follow the club’s progress, saying, “I believe we can really climb from the Championship into the top level.”
Rooney recognized the expectations placed upon him with Birmingham currently sitting sixth in the league following an encouraging start, yet welcomed the challenge by declaring, “I enjoy challenges and pressure associated with it”, something which has been part of his life ever since he was young. His first match as manager will take place against Middlesbrough next Wednesday – where former Manchester United and England teammate Michael Carrick may make his managerial debut against Rooney for Middlesbrough.
Garry Cook, Rooney’s former CEO at Manchester City and longstanding friend through their relationship as agents for both players, attempted to lure Rooney away to Saudi Arabia during his term as executive president of Saudi Pro League. Rooney instead chose Birmingham over Saudi Arabia and has emphasised it was done for his own development rather than as any slight on other managers who have ventured there previously. At Birmingham he will be assisted by former teammates Ashley Cole, John O’Shea Carl Robinson and Pete Shuttleworth during his stay.