Wayne Rooney says he chose the “pressure” of returning to boyhood club Everton over a massive paycheck in China when he left Manchester United.
The former England captain was linked with a move to the Far East in the final months of his career at Old Trafford but eventually decided on an emotional homecoming 13 years after leaving Goodison Park.
Rooney, 32, told the BBC’s Football Focus programme he decided against seeing out his career “earning a lot of money” overseas.
“That’s not me, I need those goals, I need that pressure. That desire to play would have been lost if I’d chosen that other option,” he said.
“I knew that coming back to Everton was more pressure — that’s what I wanted.
“I wanted to prove myself again to the Everton fans and to try to help this club move forward and win silverware. I think it was the perfect fit for me and hopefully in the next two or three years we can do that.”
Last month manager Sam Allardyce suggested he could not play Rooney and £45 million ($ 63 million, 51 million euros) summer signing Gylfi Sigurdsson in the same side.
That led to Rooney spending a couple of matches on the bench but the past two games he has started, in a deeper role, resulted in the club’s only two wins in the past 10 fixtures and it now seems Allardyce is open to the options he can offer.
“The one thing which stays is my attitude to playing, my attitude to win, but of course you change and adapt your game and that’s what I feel I’ve done over the last few years,” Rooney said.
“Two years ago, I thought my best position to play was midfield, and that’s starting to happen now.”
Rooney played 559 times for United, becoming their all-time leading goalscorer with 253 goals, winning five Premier League titles and the Champions League.
He said he has followed the example of former United team-mate Ryan Giggs, who retired from playing at 40.
“I’ve learnt that you can manage yourself in training, like Ryan did,” he said. “He was there in every session but he managed it. You know when to run, when to make a 50-yard sprint and when not to. It’s just having that awareness about yourself.”