History was re-written on Saturday afternoon at Stoke City, as Wayne Rooney finally broke Sir Bobby Charlton’s long-standing Manchester United goalscoring record; reaching the previously unprecedented milestone of 250 goals in United colours. In our tip of the hat to Rooney’s record achievement, Kitbag.com takes a look back at some of the Old Trafford favourites the 31-year old forward surpassed en route – and the matches in which he eclipsed their hauls.
One of a select band of players to experience success at both Manchester United and Arsenal, Frank Stapleton scored 78 times in United red; a target Wayne Rooney would impressively smash barely four years into his Old Trafford career. With his opener at Aalborg on 30th September 2008 helping Alex Ferguson’s team to a 3-0 UCL triumph, Rooney scored his 79th goal for United in Denmark, surpassing former Ireland international Stapleton in the process.
Heralded as the King in the red half of Manchester, Eric Cantona scored 82 times for United during his all-to-brief stint at Old Trafford; a tally that Wayne Rooney would subsequently pass on 30th November 2008. Rippling the net across town at Manchester City, Rooney’s 83rd United goal would be his 100th overall in club football, as well as the winner on the day.
Few Manchester United stars have captured the world’s imagination like David Beckham, who netted 85 times for the first team, before taking his considerable talents to Spain, the United States, Italy and France. Bagging a brace in the World Club Championship semi-finals, Rooney meanwhile proved himself to be big in Japan; his pair of goals against Gamba Osaka on 18 December 2008 taking him above and beyond his former England teammate’s tally of 85.
Wembley Stadium was a special place for United’s Lou Macari, with the Scottish striker inspiring his countrymen to a famous Wembley win over England in 1977, as well as FA Cup and Charity Shield success that same year. On 9th August 2009 however, Macari’s 97-goal haul for United would be outdone by Wayne Rooney at the revamped national arena; his last-minute equaliser in the Shield with Chelsea taking the former Everton man to 98 United goals.
‘Captain Marvel’ was an influential force in the United midfield for more than a decade, inspiring the side to a slew of silverware in the 80s and early 90s. With 99 goals to his name, few midfielders of the era were as prolific in attack, yet Bryan Robson would be another caught by Rooney; his opener at Wigan on 22nd August 2009 carrying United’s #10 to 100.
United teammates for three standout seasons, Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo made a formidable pairing at Old Trafford, before the Portuguese star’s departure for Real Madrid in summer 2009. Today, Ronaldo stands among 20 other players to have netted a century of United goals; yet on 31st January 2010, the Galactico would drop below Rooney in the hierarchy, as the Liverpudlian hit the target in a 3-1 win at Arsenal to advance to 119.
Taking his prolific goalscoring form from Newcastle to Manchester in 1994, hitman Andy Cole hit the net no fewer than 121 times in United colours, but was passed by an inspired Wayne Rooney one famous night in Italy. With their UEFA Champions League showdown poised at one apiece, Rooney’s brace against AC Milan helped United to a first ever victory at the San Siro, with the decisive third in the visitors’ 3-2 win his 25th goal of the 2009-10 campaign.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Tying Brian McClair’s haul of 127, Rooney’s efforts either side of half-time helped the forward match and then pass former Old Trafford favourite Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Solksjaer will be forever be synonymous with United in European competition, after the Norwegian nabbed an unforgettable winner in the 1999 UCL final. Nonetheless, Rooney’s two goals in the second leg with Milan on 10th March 2010 helped the Englishman take two more steps to becoming the club’s record European goalscorer; a feat accomplished in the 4-0 win over Feyenoord.
Ruud van Nistelrooy
Setting his sights on Manchester United’s all-time top ten, Rooney’s sterling performance on 28th August 2011 not only swept aside Arsenal, but helped him pass the 150-goal mark, almost exactly five years after his high-profile move to Old Trafford. Rooney’s double in the 8-2 humbling of the Gunners meanwhile helped him edge past prolific Ruud van Nistelrooy, the Dutchman having wrapped up his own decorated United career two years into Rooney’s.
With two playing stints at Old Trafford and 163 goals to his credit, former Wales international forward Mark Hughes would forge a successful management career in later life, pitching up at a host of clubs, including United’s nearby rivals Manchester City. Ironically, City’s Etihad Stadium would be where Rooney passed Hughes’ United goal tally, his two efforts on 8th January 2012 helping United beat Hughes’ successor Roberto Mancini’s Citizens team 3-2.
Ascending to elite company, 22nd April 2012 saw Rooney partake in a rollercoaster tussle with former club Everton. United were pegged back by the Toffees that day in what was a 4-4 thriller; a result that may have ultimately scuppered their Premier League title hopes. Nevetheless, the match marked another milestone for Rooney, his goals helping the England captain catch and surpass both the brilliant Dennis Violet and United royalty George Best.
Rooney’s 76th-minute winner against Swansea City on the second day of 2016 was enough to see him past the great Denis Law; his audacious flick from inside the six-yard box a fitting effort to achieve this. With Rooney scoring ten more times across the calendar year and solidifying his spot as the club’s second leading goalscorer, the striker would fire himself within reach of Bobby Charlton’s record as 2016 drew to a close. But could Rooney do it?
Sir Bobby Charlton
One year and five days after leaping over Law, Rooney’s instinctive finish in the FA Cup win against Reading secured his place in United goalscoring legend, equalling Charlton’s tally of 249 club goals. Then, three days later at Old Trafford, Rooney would go close against Hull, but the magic moment would be delayed until Saturday at Stoke, as Rooney stroked home a sublime, stoppage-time free-kick to make the magic number a reality. 250, not out! AC
- Training in 2008 by Action Images/Scott Heavey
- Rooney/Cantona Flags by Action Images/Lee Smith
- with David Beckham by Action Images/Darren Walsh
- vs Chelsea by Action Images/Carl Recine
- Training in 2009 by Action Images/Carl Recine
- with Cristiano Ronaldo by Action Images/Carl Recine
- at AC Milan by Action Images/Jason Cairnduff
- vs AC Milan by Action Images/Jason Cairnduff
- vs Arsenal by Action Images/Carl Recine
- vs Manchester City by Action Images/Ed Sykes
- vs Everton by Action Images/Jason Cairnduff