If Wayne Rooney ends Manchester United’s FA Cup hopes this week, it wouldn’t be the first time an ex-player has come back to score against their old team …
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Rooney will play against the club he left as their all-time top goal-scorer for the first time in three years when his Derby County side host United at Pride Park in the FA Cup fifth round on Thursday (stream live at 2:45 p.m. ET on ESPN+ in the U.S.).
Rooney, 34, hasn’t played against his old side since 2017, during his second stint with Everton.
According to Shay Given, who is on Derby’s coaching staff, Rooney will indeed celebrate should he score against the club for whom he won 15 major trophies in 13 years, rather than observe the standard protocol of muted cheers, apologetic hands and bashful grimaces.
As a prelude to the inevitable, here’s a selection of other returning heroes who have faced the quandary of whether to celebrate or otherwise after taking a lump out of their ex-employers.
Rooney himself has precedent here. With Manchester United travelling to face Everton at Goodison Park on the opening day of the 2005-06 campaign, the 19-year-old returned to his old stomping ground just one season after leaving, ignored the vociferous boos and promptly scored in a 2-0 victory.
Things took a turn for the weird in 2014 when Chelsea’s all-time record goal-scorer returned in a Manchester City kit (while on loan from New York City FC) to score against the club he’d previously represented with distinction for well over a decade.
Lampard came off the bench for City to score a late equaliser in a 1-1 draw at the Etihad — a goal that he couldn’t bring himself to celebrate. The veteran midfielder was then visibly moved to tears after the final whistle as the travelling Blues fans gave him a standing ovation.
This goal gets extra kudos for the look of anguish on John Terry’s face as he realises he’s let his old mate score on his watch.
While Law’s backheel in front of the Stretford End wasn’t the goal that mathematically sealed Manchester United’s embarrassing relegation to the second division at the end of the 1973-74 season, it was definitely a significant contributing factor.
It was a win for similarly relegation-threatened Birmingham City later that same day which officially consigned United to their miserable fate with one last round of league fixtures still to play.
Either way, it was hard to take for a Man City striker who had scored almost 250 goals in over 400 appearances and won the European Cup for United in the previous 11 years.
Etiquette went out the window when Adebayor scored for Manchester City against former side Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium in 2009.
Rather than the industry standard apologetics, the Togolese striker charged the entire length of the field to very deliberately make a show of celebrating in the faces of his onetime supporters.
Robin van Persie
After nine seasons at Arsenal, Van Persie upped sticks and made a £24 million move to rivals Manchester United in 2012.
He soon reminded the Gunners exactly what they were missing, scoring three times in his first three games against them while winning a previously elusive Premier League title with United at the first attempt.
Not content with breaking Arsenal hearts, Van Persie returned to do likewise to Manchester United shortly after leaving Old Trafford to join Fenerbahce in 2016.
However, the consequences weren’t quite so dramatic this time around, with the Dutchman netting a late consolation goal in what proved to be a fairly heavy 4-1 defeat at the hands of his former teammates.
Having made his world-record €100m switch, Ronaldo solemnly vowed that he wouldn’t celebrate against his “family” at Manchester United if he scored for Real Madrid in the last 16 of the Champions League in 2012-13.
Sure enough, the Portugal star netted by leaping into the air and burying a towering header past David De Gea — holding a couple of respectfully tempered fingers aloft in celebration and nothing more.
Ronaldo then followed up by scoring again in the return leg at Old Trafford as Real sent United packing, this time almost apologising to the home fans as he was mobbed by his teammates.
A brooding journeyman at the best of times, Anelka scored two goals that cost former side Liverpool a place in the Champions League back in May 2003.
Returning to Anfield with Man City, the French striker waited until his side went a goal down to spring into life, scoring twice in the second half to secure a 2-1 turnaround that saw the hosts slide out of the top four.
Just to add insult to injury, it was also City’s first win at Liverpool since the early 1980s.
Notable in that Morientes was actually on loan at Monaco from Real Madrid at the time, the Spanish forward scored the vital goals that knocked his parent club out of the 2003-04 Champions League quarterfinals.
With no clause in place to prevent his selection, Morientes scored a goal in the first leg at the Bernabeu and then again in the reverse fixture to ultimately condemn Real’s star-studded Galacticos to defeat on away goals, while Monaco went on to reach the final.
With plenty of former clubs across Europe and the world to haunt, it’s perhaps little surprise that Ibrahimovic is included here.
His most dramatic return undoubtedly came in 2010 when, newly of AC Milan, the Swede silenced the heckles and jeers of the Inter Milan curva with a late penalty that sent the Rossoneri to the top of the table.
Of course, he celebrated in front of the Inter fans, thus enraging his once adoring public a little further.
Ajax substitute goalkeeper scores winner in shootout, celebrates like Ronaldo
Ajax’s under-19 side are safely into the quarterfinals of the 2020 UEFA Youth League after seeing off Atletico Madrid’s young guns in the round of 16.
However, it took a frankly astonishing cameo performance from substitute goalkeeper Daan Reiziger to clinch the narrow victory.
Reiziger was brought on specifically for the shootout by coach Johnny Heitinga, and the teenage stopper more than proved his mettle by saving three Atletico penalties before scoring the winning spot kick himself.
The super-sub performance from Reiziger was enough to earn the Ajax keeper a message of congratulations from club legend Edwin van der Sar, no doubt one of his goalkeeping idols.
We’re getting flashbacks to the 2014 World Cup, when Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal subbed on Tim Krul for a shootout against Costa Rica and the latter went on to save two spot-kicks in a 4-3 win. Must be a Dutch thing …
German cup minnows to celebrate upset: “We’ll now drink that much that we will not know the name of tomorrow’s day”
Saarbrucken are the first-ever fourth-division side to reach the semifinals of the DFB Pokal, and you’ll be glad to know that they plan to celebrate accordingly.
The minnows overturned Bundesliga opposition in the shape of Fortuna Dusseldorf on Tuesday to make it to the final four of the German Cup, after a brilliant penalty shootout win sealed the deal.
Goalkeeper Daniel Batz was the star of the show, saving no fewer than five penalties on the night — one in normal time, followed by four more in a thrilling 7-6 shootout win.
“It’s surreal. It was unbelievable. If my fingers weren’t hurting that much, I’d say I am living in a dream world,” Batz told Sky Germany after the game. “Five penalties? That’s more than I saved in my entire career until today!”
As you might expect, the celebrations after the final whistle were boisterous but they are likely to pale once Saarbrucken get round to toasting their magnificent feat properly.
“We’ll now drink that much that we will not know the name of tomorrow’s day,” added coach Lukas Kwasniok, who has only been at the Regionalliga Sudwest club since January.
Kwasniok might want to delay the party until after the semis, where Saarbrucken stand a chance of facing Bayern Munich, who are currently 56 places above them in the league ladder.
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