Wayne Rooney turned down an interview for the manager job at Everton in order to commit to Derby County’s bid for Championship survival.
The former Manchester United and England captain said there was an approach from his boyhood club to his agent asking if he would discuss the prospect of taking over at Goodison Park.
The Toffees, who sacked Rafael Benitez after just over six months in charge two weeks ago, have yet to appoint a permanent successor.
Although Rooney is convinced he will manage in the Premier League in future, he took the “difficult decision” to decline talks with Everton as he wants to see through Derby’s attempt to avoid relegation to the third tier.
“Everton approached my agent and asked me to interview for the vacant job, which I turned down,” he said on Friday.
“They got in touch with my agent, my agent let the administrators know as well, and yes of course it was a difficult decision for me [to turn it down].
“I believe I will be a Premier League manager. I believe I’m ready for that, 100 per cent. And if that is with Everton one day in the future, that would be absolutely great. But I’ve got a job here that I’m doing at Derby County, which is an important job to me.”
— Derby County (@dcfcofficial) January 28, 2022
Rooney, who progressed through Everton’s academy and rejoined the club in 2017 after 15 years at United, initially took on a player-coach role at Derby after Phillip Cocu was sacked in November 2020, with the club bottom of the Championship. He retired from playing to take on the permanent manager job in January last year and steered them to survival on the final day of the season.
Derby were hit with a 21-point deduction for 2021-22 after going into administration and admitting a breach of English Football League accounting rules, but while the future of the club remains uncertain, Rooney has overseen an almost miraculous battle against relegation, with eight wins and 11 draws from 27 matches leaving them a relatively modest eight points from safety.
Everton dismissed Benitez following a defeat to Norwich City left them six points above the Premier League drop zone. According to reports, their final three candidates are caretaker manager Duncan Ferguson, former Chelsea head coach Frank Lampard and ex-Porto and Fenerbahce boss Vitor Pereira.