New Birmingham boss Wayne Rooney says he felt his “pathway was a different way” after being approached about managing in Saudi Arabia.
Rooney was unveiled as Blues manager at a press conference at St Andrew’s on Thursday, where he sat alongside the club’s chief executive Garry Cook.
Cook assumed that role in July after Birmingham were taken over by US-based Shelby Companies Limited, having previously been working as executive president and chief executive of the Saudi Pro League.
Jordan Henderson and manager Steven Gerrard – two of Rooney’s former England team-mates – are among the high-profile names to have moved to the league in recent months.
When Rooney was asked if he had had an offer from Saudi Arabia, Cook said: “We discussed it, (but) it wasn’t going to happen.”
Rooney added: “That’s no disrespect to anyone who has gone out there – for me, I felt my development, my pathway was a different way.”
The ex-Everton and Manchester United forward arrives at Birmingham after stepping down as DC United boss last weekend.
In August, Birmingham announced Tom Brady had became a minority owner at the Sky Bet Championship club, and on conversations with the former NFL star, Rooney said: “We spoke about the Super Bowl in February! It was great, I went to it.
“Speaking to Tom about the club and his role, how he is being really involved, his enthusiasm for it, (it) is refreshing. I think we’re both on the same page, when we say we’re excited for what this club can achieve in the future.
“He’s one of, if not the greatest athlete of all time. He will have a lot of advice he can give to me, but also one of the things I want to do when he’s over next is get him in front of the players, talking to them and sharing his story. I’m sure it would be really inspiring.”
Rooney has signed a three-and-a-half-year deal with a Blues outfit who this week sacked manager John Eustace while lying sixth in the Championship, and very much have their sights set on the Premier League.
The 37-year-old, returning to management in England having started with a spell in charge of Derby from 2020 to 2022, has emphasised how much he is relishing the challenge he is taking on.
He said: “Ideally, I want (the playing style) to mirror me as a player, which is hard work, dedication, taking risks, being creative, but also a style that’s exciting and entertaining. But ultimately, it all comes down to winning.
“With pressure, you can make of it what you want, and there’s always pressure – there’s pressure in every day life. I’ve just come back from Washington DC and driving down the street you see people sitting on the road, and that’s a pressure to live, to eat, to get through that day. There’s different pressures in every walk of life.
“Of course this is a pressure, it’s a big responsibility, there’s a pressure from the fans, the board, the owners. You have to deliver, and I’m confident I can be the man to lead this club forward.
“(I’m) feeling the experience I’ve gained over the past three years in difficult circumstances, and good times as well, has led me here, and this is where I feel it’s meant to be. Seeing the ambitions of this club and my own coming together, I think it’s going to elevate this club. If I didn’t believe that, I wouldn’t be sat here.”
It emerged Rooney had arrived at work before 7am on Thursday, and regarding security on the gate, he said with a smile: “I don’t think he knew who it was! I think that’s important, for your staff to see (you getting in early), and ultimately you’ve got work to do…there’s a lot of work that goes in the job.”
Rooney had nights where he slept in the office during his time at Derby, during which they went into administration, were deducted 21 points and were relegated to League One.
And when asked if he was expecting any sleepless nights at Birmingham, he joked: “I’m sure I’ll have a few! But that’s part of the job. That’s probably why I’ve aged about 10 years in the last two.”
Published: by Radio NewsHub