International Sports

Wayne Rooney is leaving his $2.7 million a year salary in the US to play soccer in England's second tier

Key Points
  • Wayne Rooney will leave Major League Soccer (MLS) team D.C. United in January after 18 months in the U.S.
  • Rooney will play one division below the Premier League in the English Championship for Derby County.
  • The former Manchester United and England captain will wear the number 32 shirt for Derby County, who also has betting company 32Red as its principal shirt sponsor.
Matthias Hangst | Getty Images

Record England soccer goalscorer Wayne Rooney announced Tuesday that he will leave U.S. Major League Soccer (MLS) team D.C. United to return to play in his home country from January 2020.

Rooney has two seasons left on his current deal with D.C. United, but has agreed to join Derby County who play in the English Championship, one division below the Premier League.

Soccer fans in the U.S. will still have the opportunity to see Rooney play for a little longer, as he's pledged to see out the remainder of the MLS season with D.C.

The former England captain signed for the Washington-based franchise from Everton in July 2018 and has scored 23 goals in 41 league games.

"I must also take this opportunity to thank D.C. United, their owners, executives and supporters who have been superb to work with. I want them to know that I will give my all in support of our push for the play-offs," Rooney said in a statement Tuesday.

Along with his continued playing obligations, 33-year-old Rooney will join the coaching team with Derby, as he takes his first steps toward management.

"I am equally excited to begin my coaching career at Derby County working with both the first team and academy," he added.

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The forward has easily been the highest paid player in D.C. United's history with a reported annual base salary of $2.7 million, with a further $5 million coming through guarantees tied to his image rights and other commercial incentives.

Derby County started its new season with a 2-1 win at Huddersfield on Monday and is under the management of former Netherlands midfielder Phillip Cocu. He took charge after Rooney's former England team-mate Frank Lampard left for the head coach's job at Chelsea last month.

Rooney will wear the number 32 shirt when he joins Derby's playing squad, which will mean a move away from his long-running association with the number 10 he wore for over a decade with Manchester United and England. However, it appears Derby's principal shirt sponsor also has an interest in this transfer.

"Obviously, the commercial opportunities this creates are widespread and significant. On the back of Wayne joining the club, we have just been offered a record-breaking sponsorship deal with our principal shirt sponsor, 32Red," said Executive Chairman of Derby County Mel Morris in a statement.

Rooney's new contract with Derby is for an initial 18 months until the summer of 2021, but it also has the option to run for a further year.