On 28th September 2004, a fearless, bull-necked teenager called Wayne Rooney ran amok against Fenerbahce at Old Trafford. There’s no commentary on the video above, but for ITV, Clive Tyldesley came up with the perfect line to mark the first of Rooney’s hat-trick goals: “Wayne Rooney scores for Man United – and it’s not the last time you’ll hear that.” Quite.
The hat-trick game against Fenerbahce was Rooney’s comeback after breaking a bone in his foot at Euro 2004, but you wouldn’t know it. Watching it again, you wonder how he didn’t go on to become the best player on the planet. He was a monster in his early career, just as good as the young Cristiano Ronaldo, or indeed any other prodigy you care to name. Even though he is Man Utd and England’s top scorer, there will always be a feeling that he didn’t do his talent justice.
There’s a nice anecdote about the hat-trick too: at full-time, Rooney asked the referee, Belgian Frank De Bleeckere, for the match ball. The ref declined, saying “That’s for me.” When United boss Sir Alex Ferguson got wind of the snub, he stormed into the referee’s office and promptly returned with the ball for his new star. “I couldn’t thank him enough,” Rooney later said.