Wayne Rooney’s future had dominated the sports pages following his exploits at Euro 2004.
Rooney handed in a transfer request at Everton in August, with Manchester United and Newcastle leading the chase for the 18-year-old’s signature.
United paid £27million to make Rooney the world’s most expensive teenager and there was a keen sense of anticipation about his arrival.
But the Old Trafford faithful had to wait for his debut because of an injury suffered in England’s Euro 2004 quarter-final defeat to Portugal.
It eventually came on September 28, 2004 in a Champions League group win against Turkish club Fenerbahce – and the Stretford End immediately found a new hero in 6-2 win.
Ryan Giggs headed United in front before Rooney grabbed centre stage, taking Ruud van Nistelrooy’s 17th-minute pass to fire home left-footed into the roof of the net.
Rooney rifled in a second from 20 yards with his right foot 11 minutes later after he had dummied a defender and let the ball run across his body.
He then produced a brilliant 54th-minute free-kick to become the youngest player – at 18 years and 335 days – to score a Champions League hat-trick.
“It was a special moment,” Rooney said. “To score a hat-trick on your Champions League debut was a great feeling.”
Van Nistelrooy and David Bellion scored late goals to wrap up the win, but it was Rooney’s night and one that set the tone for the rest of his career at Old Trafford.
Rooney went on to win a dozen major honours, including five Premier League titles and a Champions League in 2008, during a 13-year career at United.
He also became the top scorer in United’s history, with 253 goals in 559 appearances, before returning to Everton in 2017.
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