Ex-England captain Wayne Rooney says his move to Derby County is not “just about coming home”, and he hopes to keep playing for as long as possible.
The 33-year-old forward will join the Championship side from Washington-based DC United in January as a player-coach.
“The opportunity to come back here and play and take the next transition in my career was one factor,” said Rooney, who has signed an 18-month deal.
“I will keep playing until my body says I can’t any more. I feel good.”
Rooney still had two seasons remaining on his contract with his Major League Soccer side, who he joined from Everton in July 2018.
He has scored 23 goals in 41 league appearances during a successful period on the pitch, but there have been reports suggesting his family have not settled in the United States.
“We’ve got four young boys and certainly for my oldest it is a crucial time in his schooling,” said Rooney. “[But] it wasn’t just about coming home.
“I had a decision to make and the decision to come and play here in England and develop as a coach with [Derby manager] Phillip Cocu was too good to turn down.
“Firstly, I’m a player and feel I have a lot of quality to bring to the squad. But, secondly, I want to learn from Phillip and his staff to gain experience for when I take the next step.”
‘I have always had ambition to manage’
Rooney’s move to Derby means he is the sixth member of England’s Euro 2004 squad – after Sol Campbell, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Paul Scholes and John Terry – to take their first steps in coaching or management in the past 15 months.
His former England team-mate Lampard led Derby to the Championship play-off final as manager last season, before leaving to become Chelsea boss in the summer.
“It’s great to see my ex-team-mates going into management,” said Rooney. “I have always had the ambition to do it.
“It’s great they are getting an opportunity. We haven’t seen that many ex-England players going down that path over the last few years.
“Coaching is what I want to do long-term but my main focus will be on playing and learning.
“With any new role you take up you want to learn the things to do and what not to do. In the next 18 months I will try to learn good habits.”