The 33-year-old, who currently players for Major League Soccer’s D.C. United, has signed an 18-month contract with the ‘Rams’ in a player-coach role.
“Wayne Rooney is an extremely talented and top-class footballer,” Derby’s Dutch coach Phillip Cocu said in a statement. “It is an exciting prospect for him to be joining Derby County and he can bring so much to this squad, both on and off the pitch.
“He has enjoyed a wonderful career, both in club football and for England, and he still has so much to give as well. His credentials speak for themselves. But to have a player with his leadership, skill, experience, character and work ethic will be huge for us.
“He knows what it takes to succeed as a player and I have no doubt he will have a positive impact right across the club. The inspiration and motivation this can generate is massive for all of our players from the first team right through to the youngsters in the Academy.”
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With Rooney’s former England teammate Frank Lampard in charge, Derby narrowly missed out on promotion to the Premier League last season, losing out in the playoff final to Aston Villa.
Lampard has since gone on to become Chelsea manager, with former Dutch international Cocu coming in to replace him at Pride Park.
Rooney’s time in the States has been a success, with him scoring 25 goals and assisting 13 times in 46 matches, helping D.C. United reach last season’s playoffs.
The striker is England’s all-time top scorer with 53 goals and won five Premier League titles, the Champions League, Europa League and FA Cup in his 13 seasons at Manchester United, while also going on to become the club’s all-time leading scorer with 253 goals.
Rooney has since gone on to become D.C. United captain and will complete the remainder of the 2019 MLS season, before making a permanent move back to England.
“I remain fully focused on giving my all for the team for the rest of this season and repaying the support shown by the Black-and-Red faithful by hopefully delivering an MLS Cup,” Rooney said in a statement.
“My time in Major League Soccer is something I will always be proud of. The supporters in the Screaming Eagles, Barra Brava and District Ultras have made my time in America so enjoyable.
“While the decision to move home was a tough one, family is everything to us and we make this change to be closer to the ones we love back in England.
“The opportunity to go back home and start the next step of my career in coaching was the factor that made my mind up. I would like to thank everyone at D.C. United for the incredible support my family and I have received over my two seasons at the club.”