Specialist First Team Coach Liam Rosenior has praised the impact Wayne Rooney has had on the young players at Derby County since his arrival in November.
Rooney, who officially starting his playing contract at the beginning of January, had been training with his new team-mates since the conclusion of America’s MLS season in October.
Following the campaign ending, and a brief respite, the five-time Premier League winner was immediately on the grass with the Rams as he prepared to embark on the next chapter of his illustrious career at the start of 2020.
It soon became apparent to Rooney that he was training alongside a lot of young, hungry and talented footballers who were soaking up the opportunity to learn from not only England’s all-time leading goalscorer, but from one of England’s greatest-ever players.
And the 34-year-old has been more than willing to offer advice and tips to the club’s Academy graduates as they look to make their mark on the game.
Since then, Rooney has gone on to make his Sky Bet Championship debut against Barnsley in January, whilst he scored his first goal at the end of that month against Luton Town.
He has played a key role in midfield and has formed a good partnership with Max Bird, who is in his first year as a professional at Pride Park Stadium.
Jason Knight has also drawn praise from Rooney himself this season, whilst Louie Sibley and Morgan Whittaker continue to make good strides in their development.
Rosenior, who joined Phillip Cocu’s coaching staff following his appointment last summer, has been impressed with how Rooney is impacting the culture amongst the young players.
“The most important thing when you bring through young players is that you need role models in your dressing room and there is nobody better that I can think of on the planet than Wayne Rooney,” he told Talksport last week.
“The career he has had is incredible and what a player he is still is now. He has had a huge impact on the pitch and had a huge impact off it too and the player learn so much each day by the way he conducts himself and the way he works so hard in training.
“They can see what it takes to get to the level that he has got to in his career. You see the likes of Jason Knight, Max Bird and Louie Sibley, they take on real messages from Wayne and from us as a coaching staff.
“With Phillip Cocu here, he is someone who has developed players throughout his coaching career so we are in a really good place at this club, not just in the short term, but in the long term as well.”
Up until Derby’s 3-0 victory over Blackburn Rovers earlier this month, Rooney had started, and captained, every game since the 2-1 victory over Barnsley on 2nd January.
His winning attitude and desire has been clear to see both on and off the field and Rosenior has been impressed with what he has seen.
“We were all so excited at the time when we knew he was coming in but he has surpassed all the expectations that we had of him,” he said.
“Not just in his own performance, but how receptive he is and how enthusiastic he is about the game.
“He loves football and that’s why he has got to the level that he has done in his career because he has sacrificed and worked so hard when people don’t see you at the training ground.
“That’s what the young players have taken on board and Wayne is a big part of what we are doing here and has been a massive part in the upturn in form that we have had since the turn of the year.”
Rooney has made 15 appearances in all competitions at Derby since his arrival and scored four times.