Wayne Rooney will return to management in England after being appointed manager of Championship side Birmingham City on a 3½-year deal, the club announced on Wednesday.
Manchester United legend Rooney left his role as D.C. United head coach on Sunday after his side failed to reach the Major League Soccer playoffs for a second successive season and joins Birmingham, where NFL legend Tom Brady announced in August he became a minority owner and advisory board chair.
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Rooney’s former teammates Ashley Cole, whom he played with at England, and John O’Shea, whom he shared time with at Manchester United, will join his coaching staff.
“I have been building my managerial career, putting myself in challenging environments, to get me ready for this opportunity,” Rooney said in a statement. It’s a project that gives me a sense of purpose and I can’t wait to get started.”
Rooney replaces John Eustace as manager. Eustace’s Birmingham side were sixth in the Championship with five wins from their opening 11 games before his 15-month spell in charge was ended on Monday.
Eustace helped Birmingham avoid relegation last season in trying circumstances caused by two failed takeover bids and the looming threat of a points deduction due to a breach of EFL regulations.
“Wayne is a born winner,” Birmingham co-owner Tom Wagner said. “We believe, with the support of his coaching staff, the club, and our supporters, he will take Blues forward on the next stage of our journey. His playing philosophy will help to realise the ambitions we have set for Birmingham City.
“Wayne has been preparing for an opportunity like this since he embarked on his coaching education whilst still a player at Manchester United. He and his staff have the full support of the board and everyone at the football club.”
Rooney has previously managed in the Championship, with his first coaching job coming at Derby County between January 2021 and June 2022.
He guided the club from the foot of the Championship to safety months after arriving but failed to repeat the feat in his first full season in charge due to a 21-point deduction. The 55 points Derby won that year would have been enough to secure safety in any other Championship season.
Rooney took charge at D.C. United in July 2022 after a previous playing spell at the club but was unable to prevent the team finishing last in the Eastern Conference in his first season. He led the club to an improved ninth-place finish in 2023, but it wasn’t enough to secure a playoff spot.
D.C. United announced his departure immediately after their last game of the regular season, a 2-0 loss to New York City FC.
Rooney is United’s leading scorer with 253 goals and only earlier this year was usurped by Harry Kane as England’s record goal scorer.