The then 18-year-old was one of English football’s hottest prospects after starring for Everton that season and also scoring four times at Euro 2004, with Newcastle joining the Blues and United in the bidding for his services.
Rooney – who would go on to become United’s record goalscorer with 253 goals for the club – broke a bone in his foot in the defeat to Portugal at the tournament and was ruled out for a month, but that did not stop interest mounting.
Wayne Rooney has revealed Everton tried to get him to sign for Chelsea before he joined Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United in 2004
Rooney, then 18, had starred for Everton had was one of English football’s hottest prospects
Now speaking to the UTD podcast, he has revealed that the cash-strapped Toffees were pushing him to move to Stamford Bridge, where Jose Mourinho had just taken over, but his heart was set on a move to Sir Alex Ferguson’s side once he heard of United’s interest before Euro 2004.
‘I knew it [joining United] was an option before Euro 2004,’ Rooney said.
‘I knew Manchester United wanted to sign me. I think going to the Euros, and doing well there, probably added a bit more money onto the transfer fee but I broke my foot and found out a few things.
He then enhanced that growing reputation by netting four goals for England at Euro 2004
Chelsea had just brought in Jose Mourinho as boss and were offering Everton the most money
‘Everton were really struggling for money at the time and I found out they were listening to offers from people as well. They were trying to push me to sign for Chelsea because they were going to pay the most money.
‘But, once I knew United were interested, I wanted some confirmation that they did want to sign me. Once I knew they did want to sign me, it was the only club [for me].’
United had already signed Alan Smith from Leeds that summer and the initial plan was to bring Rooney to the club the following summer.
But Rooney has revealed that he considered spending one season at St James’ Park under Sir Bobby Robson before United came in and got their man on transfer-deadline day.
But Rooney insists United was the only club for him once he became aware of their interest
United had already signed Alan Smith in 2004 and had planned on signing Rooney in 2005
‘It was a perfect fit for me. United actually wanted to wait a year, until the following year, but then Newcastle came into talks with Everton and with myself.
‘I’d gone too far then. I couldn’t wait another year, I couldn’t stay another year at Everton, so I was prepared to go to Newcastle for that year.
‘I spoke to them, we spoke about the salary and what I wanted. [I told them if] I went there and Manchester United came in, they’d have to let me go.
Rooney then considered spending a season at Newcastle under Sir Bobby Robson before United swooped to sign Rooney on deadline day
‘Newcastle were agreeing to that but obviously, with United, I went back to them and said, if you don’t do it now, I’ll go to Newcastle with a clause in place. United obviously didn’t want me to go there so I came here.
‘It was basically whatever Newcastle paid for me, United would have paid a year later.’
Rooney would go on to enjoy a stellar career at Old Trafford, with the current Derby manager winning five Premier League titles and the 2008 Champions League with the club.
Rooney went on to become United’s record goalscorer and win five Premier League titles