Wayne Rooney is returning to English football with Derby

Former England captain Wayne Rooney is to join Derby County as a player-coach.

He will link up with the Rams as a player-coach in January 2020 on an initial 18-month contract after he sees out the 2019 MLS season with DC United.

News of Derby's interest in Rooney emerged shortly before they opened their new Championship campaign with a 2-1 victory away at Huddersfield on Monday night.

Pictures appeared on social media on Tuesday morning of the former Everton and Manchester United striker at Heathrow airport having flown in from Washington DC.

"It's literally only been a couple of days in the offing," Derby owner Mel Morris told Talksport. "The starting point was that we understood he was keen to return to the UK and we decided to see if we could do something off the back of that."

Following the win at Huddersfield, Derby boss Phillip Cocu – who replaced Frank Lampard this summer – was asked about the reports linking the Rams with Rooney but he was coy in his replies.

Morris confirmed Cocu has spoken with Rooney and described those talks as "critical" to the deal becoming a possibility.

"The key thing for me is the conversation he had with Phillip Cocu, which was absolutely critical to the interest that Wayne has," he said.

"From my side of it, why wouldn't you want a player with his career and background? His achievements are absolutely phenomenal."

Cocu told the club's official website: "Wayne Rooney is an extremely talented and top-class footballer. It is an exciting prospect for him to be joining Derby County and he can bring so much to this squad, both on and off the pitch.

"He has enjoyed a wonderful career, both in club football and for England, and he still has so much to give as well."

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Everton's Wayne Rooney has a drink as his manager David Moyes (l) gives him instructions
Everton's Wayne Rooney celebrates scoring the equalising goal.
Arsenal's Thierry Henry congratulates Everton's Wayne Rooney at the end of the game after Rooney scored the winning goal
Everton's Wayne Rooney gets into a pushing match with Liverpool's Steven Gerrard.
England's Francis Jeffers (centre right) is congratulated by team-mates after scoring against Australia during the friendly International match against Australia at Upton Park, east London. Australia defeated England 3-1. THIS PICTURE CAN ONLY BE USED WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF AN EDITORIAL FEATURE. NO WEBSITE/INTERNET USE UNLESS SITE IS REGISTERED WITH FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION PREMIER LEAGUE.
England's Wayne Rooney and Turkey's Buruk Okan battle for the ball
l-r; England's Michael Owen celebrates scoring the opening goal with Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney
England's Wayne Rooney celebrates after scoring the opening goal against Switzerland, with David Beckham (right) during the Euro 2004, first round, Group B match at the Cidade de Coimbra, Portugal. EDITORIAL USE ONLY, NO MOBILE PHONE OR PDA USE. INTERNET USE ONLY ON UEFA AUTHORISED SITES AND THEN, NO MORE THAN 10 PHOTOGRAPHS PER HALF OF NORMAL PLAYING TIME AND FIVE PHOTOGRAPHS PER HALF OF EXTRA TIME CAN BE PUBLISHED VIA THE INTERNET WITH AN INTERVAL OF AT LEAST ONE MINUTE BETWEEN THE POSTING OF EACH SUCH PHOTOGRAPH.
England's Wayne Rooney celebrates scoring the 2nd goal
Manchester United's new signing Wayne Rooney (r) and manager Sir Alex Ferguson pose with his shirt
Manchester United's new signing Wayne Rooney (l) with his girlfriend Coleen McCloughlin
l-r; Manchester United's captain Roy Keane congratulates opening goal scorer Wayne Rooney.
England captain David Beckham (R) attempts to console Wayne Rooney after he is shown the yellow card.
Manchester United's Wayne Rooney with the PFA Young Player of the Year Award he received at the Grosvenor House Hotel, London.
Britain's Prince William speaks to injured England striker Wayne Rooney (right) during a visit to the England World Cup squad training camp at the Carrington Training Ground, Manchester.
Manchester United's Wayne Rooney as Celtic fans hold aloft scalfs
Wayne Rooney and Coleen McLoughlin during their visit to Alder Hey Children's Hospital, Liverpool, where they opened a new unit for children with brain illnesses.
Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring the third goal with teammate Wayne Rooney (l)
manchester United's Wayne Rooney and goalscorer Cristiano Ronaldo celebrate a late winner ar Craven Cottage
Manchester United's Wayne Rooney lifts the English Premier League trophy
Wayne Rooney and Coleen McLoughlin at the Gary Neville and Emma Hadfield wedding, Manchester Cathedral, Manchester.
Manchester United players (l-r) Michael Carrick, John O'Shea, Ryan Giggs and Wayne Rooney during a training at the Stade Gerland in Lyon, France.
Manchester United's Rio Ferdinand and Wayne Rooney with the Premier League trophy
England's Wayne Rooney scores his sides second goal
Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown (centre) joins David Beckham (left) and Wayne Rooney to launch England's 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids at Wembley Stadium, London.
Manchester United's Wayne Rooney celebrates after his cross is turned in by Hull City's Andy Dawson, to give his side their second goal of the game
Manchester United footballer Wayne Rooney arrives at Manchester Civil Court, where he will give evidence in court later today as he fights a 4.3 million lawsuit.
Wayne Rooney leaves the Westin Grand Hotel, Munich, Germany.
Manchester United's Wayne Rooney (left) with his trophy for PFA Players Player of the Year, and Aston Villa's James Milner with his trophy for PFA Young Player of the Year, at the PFA Player of the Year Awards 2010 at the Grosvenor House Hotel, London.
England's Wayne Rooney (left) walks past manager Fabio Capello (right) dejected as he is substituted
Manchester United's Wayne Rooney celebrates scoring the winning goal during the UEFA Champions League, Group C match at Ibrox Stadium, Glasgow.
England's Wayne Rooney with his wife Coleen and son Kai, leave the team hotel in Krakow, Poland.
England's Wayne Rooney and Ukraine's Denys Garmash battle for the ball
A heavily pregnant Coleen Rooney (centre) with husband Wayne Rooney and their son Kai, on the pitch to celebrate Manchester United winning the Barclays Premier League, after the game
England's Harry Kane (left) celebrates scoring his sides first goal of the game with team-mate Wayne Rooney during the UEFA European Qualifying match at Wembley Stadium, London.
Manchester United's Wayne Rooney holding the Emirates FA Cup trophy
(From left to right) Manchester United's Wayne Rooney, massuer Rod Thornley and manager Jose Mourinho pose for a picture during the training session at the Aon Training Complex, Carrington.
Everton's Wayne Rooney celebrates his second goal of the game
England's Wayne Rooney during a guard of honour
Nov 1, 2018; Washington, DC, USA; D.C. United forward Wayne Rooney (9) stands on the field before the game against the Columbus Crew at Audi Field. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports/Sipa USA
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Cocu continued: "His credentials speak for themselves. But to have a player with his leadership, skill, experience, character and work ethic will be huge for us. He knows what it takes to succeed as a player and I have no doubt he will have a positive impact right across the club.

"The inspiration and motivation this can generate is massive for all of our players, from the first team right through to the youngsters in the academy. It is entirely in keeping with, and in support of, the club's philosophy and approach.

"I am looking forward to working with Wayne from the start of next year and welcoming him to the club."

Rooney joined DC United last summer on a three-and-a-half-year contract after one season back at his boyhood club Everton, where he started his glittering career.

Bringing in a player of Rooney's stature has raised questions about the cost of the deal and the wages he might be paid, but Morris allayed any Financial Fair Play fears.

Mel Morris is aiming to finalise the deal
Mel Morris is aiming to finalise the deal (Nick Potts/PA)

He said: "We've maintained all along that we want to be compliant with FFP and I don't see anything in this deal that would change that."

Rooney is England's all-time record scorer with 53 goals in 120 appearances, as well as Manchester United's record goalscorer with 253 goals in 559 appearances.

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