Everton's Wayne Rooney, left, and Stoke City's Kurt Zouma in action during the English Premier League soccer match at Goodison Park, Liverpool, England, Aug 12, 2017. (ANTHONY DEVLIN / PA VIA AP)
LIVERPOOL, England — Wayne Rooney marked his first Premier League game back at boyhood club Everton by scoring in a 1-0 win over Stoke on Saturday.
Rooney headed home a right-wing cross in first-half injury time to score 4,869 days after his last goal for Everton before joining Manchester United, where he became one of English soccer's most decorated players.
"It was a special moment for me," Rooney said. "There was a lot of relief and a lot of emotion came out in the celebration.
"I've felt at home since I first stepped in the training ground. I've been looking forward to this moment for a long time."
It was the 31-year-old striker's 199th Premier League goal.
Everton's Wayne Rooney celebrates scoring his side's first goal against Stoke City during the English Premier League soccer match at Goodison Park, Liverpool, England, Aug 12, 2017. (ANTHONY DEVLIN / PA VIA AP)
Rooney had already played twice for Everton since his sentimental return to Goodison Park, but didn't score in either of the Europa League qualifying matches.
If he was underwhelming in those games, he showed a massive improvement against Stoke, working hard in possession and out of it.
"There was one player in an Everton shirt today who from the first second to the last second was comfortable on the pitch," Everton manager Ronald Koeman said.
"In difficult moments in the game he showed his experience. He was clever, he was comfortable on the ball. That was different to some other players. That's why we signed Wayne, expecting to show his teammates all that experience, and it was really important."