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Wayne Rooney to return to Everton

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Former striker to pull on blue shirt once more

Gary M. Prior/Getty Images

Man Utd striker Wayne Rooney is to make a one-off appearance back at Everton as a special guest at Duncan Ferguson's testimonial.

England captain Rooney is to feature against Villarreal on August 2 in what will be his first Everton appearance since May 2004.

Rooney famously wore a t-shirt bearing the phrase "once a blue, always a blue" when a member of Everton's youth side and burst onto the senior scene with a famous winner against Arsenal in 2002 aged just 16.

Rooney would go on to play 67 times and score 15 goals for Everton but angered Toffees fans when he left for Man Utd on deadline day in the summer of 2004, just weeks after starring for England at the European Championships.

The relationship between Rooney and the fans appeared to be permanently damaged, especially when Rooney decided to kiss the Man Utd badge on one return to Goodison Park a few years ago.

However, the 29-year-old has been on a charm offensive in recent years, often publicly stating his love and affection for boyhood club.

This has culminated in a famous guest appearance, raising hopes among some supporters that Rooney may well return to Everton on a more permanent basis sometime in the future.

Speaking about his Everton return, Rooney said:

"I cannot think of a better way to thank Dunc for all he did for me than turning out in his fully deserved testimonial match.

"Had he not asked me to play I would have gone and supported him on the day as I am sure most other Evertonians will."

Ferguson added:

"I’m absolutely delighted that the wee man has agreed to play in the game.

"Everybody knows that we go way back. I knew him as a kid, he’s a top man and I’m proud as his friend that he’s fulfilled the potential we always knew was there.

"Wayne’s a world-class player and I’m genuinely thrilled that he will play on the day, just as I’m so grateful to the club for putting on this game."