Golden goal: Wayne Rooney for Manchester United v Fenerbahce (2004)

The teenage signing from Everton captured the imagination at Old Trafford with a storybook debut hat-trick

For all the adulation modern footballers receive, most will never comprehend the impact they have on young people. Sure, you get 21st-century icons such as Jack Grealish or James Maddison, who cut through all that silly public scrutiny on their hair or fashion choices and manage to connect with young supporters, but the vast majority can never truly know what they mean to fans.

I’ve worked in football journalism for almost a decade and met a fair few figures who could be deemed idols. Going to a José Mourinho press conference as a student on work experience was surreal. Making my first visit to the Old Trafford press box felt like a landmark as a boyhood Manchester United fan, as was shaking hands with Ole Gunnar Solskjær after covering a United pre-season friendly in Norway.

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