- Wayne Rooney has led D.C. United on an improbable comeback through the 2018 MLS season since joining the club over the summer.
- Rooney told the TV show “Men in Blazers” recently that when he signed with the MLS club, United offered him first-class travel and private hotel rooms but he declined, saying he wanted to be treated like any other member of the team.
- Rooney said this gesture went a long way in ingratiating himself with his new teammates.
Wayne Rooney’s arrival in MLS has been one of the fascinating sports stories of the year.
In the latest case of a European superstar electing to extend his career in the United States, expectations weren’t exactly high for Rooney in his first season with D.C. United. The team was at the bottom of the standings when Rooney joined, with little hope of making a run to the postseason.
But rather than wait for next year, Rooney was an immediate spark for the team, kick-starting one of the greatest midseason turnarounds in MLS history as the team clinched a playoff spot in the final week of the season. In just 19 appearances, Rooney has 12 goals and nine assists for United, helping to raise D.C. from the dregs of the table and turn them into one of the hottest clubs in MLS.
Rooney’s accomplishments on the pitch have been evident, but in a recent interview with the TV show “Men in Blazers,” he said a decision he made off the field might have been one of the biggest contributors to his success with his new club.
When Rooney signed with D.C. United, he said, they offered him first-class flights and private hotel rooms for away games, but Rooney refused, saying he wanted to be treated like any other player on the team.
“If you are going to be part of the team, you have to be part of the team,” Rooney said. “All in and do the same things. I don’t want special treatment – I wanted to be treated the same as the players. I’m part of this team.”
Rooney said he had seen how other players had transitioned to MLS and knew that proving himself as a team player would be important to both his and the team’s success.
“It’s not rocket science – if you can go and form relationships with the players and speak to them,” he said. “I know a lot of players who come here – big players in other countries – they haven’t attempted to form those relationships or to buy in to what the team are doing. I think it is important. You do that, and you can have a big impact on the team.”
D.C. United will play their regular-season finale on Sunday against the Chicago Fire and are scheduled to begin their fight through the MLS Cup playoff next week.
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