Ask Wayne Rooney what he loves most about his new life in the United States, and he says that is the simple things – being able to go about “everyday life” without the scrutiny that was so all-encompassing as one of Britain’s most famous public figures.
“Everyday [normal] life is something I maybe didn’t have as a child growing up from 16 going into the first team [at Everton] and England,” he says. “It is nice to still be playing and be able to do that. In terms of my time with my family, it’s a lot more enjoyable.”
His four boys Kai, Klay, Kit and baby Cass are now seeing their dad walking around shopping malls without drawing any of the attention he might once have done in the Trafford Centre in Manchester.
“It wasn’t impossible to go to places like that,” he says, “but I suppose in the last five years I have done it [the Trafford Centre] once. I think it is just more the hassle. You know people are going to come up, pictures and you are almost expected to do them and give them pictures.
“And then it gets a bit frustrating, especially for my children now they are a bit older. I want to spend time with them. Over here it is different to have that time and that chance to spend that bit more with them.”
Rooney is trying hard to assimilate at DC United. He was made captain on his arrival but he did not demand the No 10 shirt from the Argentine Luciano Acosta, a little playmaker whom he rates highly, and instead wears No 9. Rooney has joined the squad’s NFL fantasy football league and is learning as quickly as he can about America’s favourite sport which is important so “I can join in the banter you can have in the dressing room rather than not know what is going on.”
He has been to watch baseball, the Major League’s Washington Nationals, and notes that the National Hockey League is about to begin.
His older children are enrolled at an international British school which means when the MLS season finishes – either in the regular season or play-offs for DC United – the Rooney family will stay in the United States until the end of term at least.