By Simon Peach, PA Chief Football Writer
Wayne Rooney has stepped down as manager of embattled Derby after a rollercoaster 18 months in charge.
The Manchester United and England great joined the Rams in January 2020 as player-coach and ended that year in temporary charge following Phillip Cocu’s departure.
Rooney hung up his boots when named Derby’s permanent boss in January 2021 and earned praise for the way he has handled a challenging first managerial post.
County were plunged into administration at the start of last season and were relegated from the Sky Bet Championship despite the 36-year-old leading a valiant fight against the drop in the face of a combined 21-point deduction.
Wayne Rooney has today informed Derby County Football Club that he wishes to be relieved of his duties as first team manager with immediate effect.#DCFC
— Derby County (@dcfcofficial) June 24, 2022
But Rooney informed the club on Friday that he wished to be relieved of his duties as Derby prepare for life in League One.
“Over the course of the summer I have been closely following developments regarding the ownership of Derby County,” England and United’s all-time top scorer said.
“Today I met with the administrators to inform them of my decision that it was time for me to leave the club. In fairness to them, they tried tremendously hard to change my decision but my mind was made up.
“My time at the club has been a rollercoaster of emotions, both highs and lows, but I have to say that I have enjoyed the challenge.
“Personally, I feel the club now needs to be led by someone with fresh energy and not affected by the events that have happened over the last 18 months.
“I will remember my time at Derby with great pride and affection and would like to thank all my staff, players and of course the fans for their incredible support.
“I will never forget you and hope to see you all again in the near future and in happier times.
“Finally, I am aware that the club still have interested parties who wish to take over the running of the club.
“To them I say this, Derby County is a great club with a great history and great fans. I wish you all the best and much success for the future.”
Earlier in the day there was the welcome news that Derby’s future appears to have been secured with the sale of Pride Park to a local property developer, which hopes to complete a takeover of the club.
In administration since September last year, fears over the Rams’ future grew last week when American businessman Chris Kirchner withdrew his offer to buy the club.
But joint administrators Quantuma have announced they have accepted an interim loan from Derbyshire-based Clowes Developments Ltd, who will submit a formal offer to buy the club having purchased Pride Park.
However, this new chapter will be without well-liked Rooney in the hotseat.
“The joint administrators are very disappointed that Wayne has taken the difficult decision to leave the club and we have spent some time today trying to persuade him to stay but understand his reasons for wanting to go” a Quantuma spokesman said.
“We are extremely grateful to him for his excellent work in the face of challenging on-field circumstances in the 2021/22 season and admire the manner in which he has led the team, the club and the local community through various off-field issues.
“The joint administrators recognise that staff and supporters will be frustrated and equally disappointed by this news, but we all wish him, his wife Coleen and their four boys every success in the future and we are sure they will always be welcomed back.
“All parties recognise the need to conclude a sale of the business and assets of the club, as a matter of urgency and the joint administrators wish to reconfirm that Wayne’s departure will not affect those ongoing, positive discussions.”