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Sunday, 20 October, 2002, 10:16 GMT 11:16 UK
World at Wayne's feet
Everton striker Wayne Rooney
Rooney's goal against Arsenal was a stroke of genius

Everton have watched with mounting frustration as young talent has rolled off the Liverpool production line with monotonous regularity.

Anfield's academy delivered Steve McManaman and Robbie Fowler, then they were swiftly followed by Michael Owen, Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard.

And Everton's anxiety at this list of high-class talent was made even more acute by the fact that they were all - Gerrard apart - unashamed boyhood Everton fans.

But there will be envious glances across Stanley Park at the emergence of a new talent which has already earned the plaudits from the game's biggest names.

Wayne Rooney's astonishing winnng goal against Arsenal confirmed the 16-year-old as one of the brightest talents in the English game - a view backed by no less an authority than Gunners' boss Arsene Wenger.

"He is the biggest English talent I've seen since I arrived in England," the Frenchman said after the teenager's goal.

"There has certainly not been an under-20 player as good as him since I became a manager here.

"We were beaten by a special goal from a very special talent - you do not need to be an expert to see that he is a special talent, very special."

Wayne has great awareness and a footballing brain which normally doesn't come until later on in years

Everton manager David Moyes

The backroom staff at Everton have long since been aware of the talents of Rooney.

He was the catalyst for Everton's youngsters reaching the FA Youth Cup final last season - and was also England's outstanding player in the European Under-17 Championship.

He would have taken Joe Royle's title as the youngest player in Everton history if he had not been called away on England duty at the end of last season.

Rooney is powerful and self-confident, and his development has been helped by his mentor, former Everton manager Colin Harvey, who is now in charge of the youth team.

"He is incredibly quick in training, he is very strong for his age, he has great awareness and a footballing brain which normally doesn't come until later on in years," said Everton boss David Moyes.

"He has got that at present, so from that point of view it is going to be difficult not to play him."

Moyes will copy his fellow Scot Sir Alex Ferguson by keeping Rooney, a boyhood Evertonian whose family are also followers, out of the media spotlight.

Moyes points to bright Rooney future

And he has also made it clear he will not be party to any future decision that would involve Rooney, who only left school two months ago, being sold for financial considerations.

"I've heard some fans say that," he added, "but there's not a chance of that happening.

"If players have to go it will be because I don't want them or because I think I can get a better player, so that certainly won't be the case with Wayne Rooney.

"He's 16 years old so we don't know if he's going to be that good yet, but what we can see and what we're working with just now there's no question he's got as much ability as anybody I've ever seen at that age."

At a club that has spent years searching for optimism, Rooney may just be what Everton have been waiting for.


Talent of tomorrow

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19 Oct 02 | Eng Prem
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