Rooney had already played one home game – a Europa League qualifier against Ruzomberok – in his second spell as an Evertonian following his close-season move from Manchester United.
But the 31-year-old’s first Premier League appearance for the Toffees at Goodison Park since 2004 still felt like a landmark moment for the player and his club on Saturday.
And Rooney rose to the occasion, heading home in first half stoppage-time to collect his first Everton goal for 4,869 days – when he netted against Leeds in April 2004.
That was enough for Ronald Koeman’s team to start the new season with three points and Everton will hope the return of the prodigal son signals the start of a push into the Premier League’s top four.
Koeman has spent over £90 million on new signings, with Swansea midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson likely to arrive soon, as he looks to fulfil that ambition.
Rooney’s name had been cheered to the rafters when the Everton team, featuring fellow debutants Jordan Pickford, Michael Keane, Davy Klaassen and Sandro Ramirez, was read out before kick-off.
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