Jose Mourinho has backed Wayne Rooney to further increase Major League Soccer’s popularity in the United States after the former England striker sealed a move to D.C. United.
Rooney, 31, has signed a three-and-a-half year contract with the Eastern Conference side after leaving Everton.
The deal will be made official when the MLS mid-season transfer window opens on July 10 and Mourinho, who managed Rooney at Manchester United, has backed him to be a success — both on and off the pitch.
“He decides the MLS and in MLS, you have always some iconic players that are going to end their career there,” said Mourinho. “You had [Steven] Gerrard, you had [Frank] Lampard, you had [Patrick] Vieira, you had so many of them. David Beckham played there, too.
“You now have Zlatan [Ibrahimovic], you now have Wayne. I just hope he enjoys it and, of course, he’ll bring the attention that the MLS needs to attract more people, to steal some people from the other sports that normally the American people are in love with.”
Rooney leaves the Premier League as the competition’s second-highest scorer behind Alan Shearer and having won the title five times during 13 seasons at Old Trafford — part of a 16-year career in England that Mourinho has described as “perfect.”
“When he made it at Everton, his boyhood club, the world was surprised with that kid and then he went to Manchester United and he had the incredible career he had,” he said. “Then in the Premier League again at Everton Football Club, so I think his career in England was perfect.”
Rob is ESPN FC’s Manchester United correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @RobDawsonESPN.