Star forward Wayne Rooney will finish the current D.C. United season and then head back to England to coach English Championship team Derby County.
D.C. United confirms that Rooney “completed negotiations to become a player-coach for Derby County in the English Championship in 2020.”
“While the decision to move home was a tough one, family is everything to us and we make this change to be closer to the ones we love back in England. The opportunity to go back home and start the next step of my career in coaching was the factor that made my mind up. I would like to thank everyone at D.C. United for the incredible support my family and I have received over my two seasons at the club,” Rooney said in news release.
D.C. United said the terms of the deal with Derby County, a second division team, are undisclosed, but British radio station talkSport reports Rooney has signed an 18-month contract that starts in January 2020.
“He (Rooney) wants to finish the season there and of course it is pivotal to them,” Mel Morris Derby County’s owner told Sky Sports. “He wanted to make sure he saw the season out.”
“Wayne is coming here to play for the club, but he also wants to accelerate his coaching badges,” Morris said on Sky Sports. “The key thing for him in terms of his long term career ambitions is to become a manager and I think Wayne see this as a good place to come and do that.”
D.C. United Co-Chairmen Steve Kaplan and Jason Levien said they understand Rooney’s decision.
“After speaking to Wayne and understanding his difficult situation of being so far away from his family, we have accepted that this is the best decision for all parties,” they said. “Our main focus now is the 2019 MLS Season and ensuring we make a push toward the playoffs with the ultimate goal of bringing an MLS Cup back to the District. Wayne is an exceptional leader and one of the most iconic players to play the game so we look forward to his continued contributions to the team this season.”
D.C. United has Rooney under contract through the 2021 season and would likely receive a transfer fee.
Rooney will become a club ambassador for D.C. United.
D.C. United is now in fourth place in the Eastern Conference Standings and returns to practice Tuesday. Rooney is in England and will not rejoin the Black and Red until Wednesday.
Rooney just represented D.C. United at the MLS All-Star game in 43 matches since joining the club last July has scored 23 goals and 14 assists.