Why, it seems like a lifetime, but 15 years ago this very day, a 16-year-old brute who looked like he was on day release from borstal emerged from the Everton bench and promptly entrenched himself deep in the topography of English football.
With a thick neck and forearms like Popeye, that young toe-rag was Wayne Rooney, who found himself thrown on against Arsenal as an 80th-minute substitute with the score level at 1-1, only to bring the Gunners’ 30-game unbeaten run to an abrupt end 10 minutes later with his very first Premier League goal.
Bringing a lumped high ball from Thomas Gravesen under instant control, Rooney pivoted, took a touch and then leathered a fearsome shot over David Seaman and in off the underside of the bar to steal a late victory for the Toffees…
“Remember the name…”, etc, etc.
That first touch definitely deserves a nod, too. Deft.
Little did young Rooney know then that he was about to embark on a long and storied career that would eventually see him leave for riches untold, shattering all manner of long-standing records along the way, before eventually ending up back at Everton, largely knackered and one of least popular players of an entire generation.
Funny how things work out sometimes, eh?