Phil Foden v Wayne Rooney – how do the two players compare?

By Sports Desk April 04, 2024

Phil Foden’s stunning hat-trick against Aston Villa stirred up memories of a young Wayne Rooney as the Manchester City midfielder continues to impress this season.

The 23-year-old starred on Wednesday night, restoring City’s lead just before half-time with a free-kick and adding a second in the 62nd minute before completing his treble shortly after.

His performance drew comparisons with Rooney post-match, with TNT Sports host Laura Woods saying: “The third goal, especially. We were chatting about this a second ago, Rio (Ferdinand) was saying it was almost like your Wayne Rooney moment, that something doesn’t go right, you get angry, and you bang in a goal.”

Foden replied: “You know it’s funny you said that because as I was celebrating I was walking with Jackie (Grealish), he also said about the Wayne Rooney goal, said ‘that’s what it reminded me of’.”

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at how the two players compare.


Wednesday night’s discussion about the two players came following the similarity in the type of goal scored.

Foden’s third goal sparked the conversation as he secured his hat-trick in sensational style with a thumping top-corner finish just moments after losing the ball outside the box.

The comparison to Rooney’s goal against Newcastle in 2005 followed, where the forward smashed an incredible volley from outside the area into the top corner just moments are complaining to the referee about a foul that was not given.

Introduction to senior football

Both players had slightly different introductions to senior football, with Rooney quickly making a name for himself in the top flight.

The striker made his senior debut for Everton in 2002 aged 16 against Tottenham and scored his first Premier League goal for the Toffees in October that year with a long-range curling shot past England goalkeeper David Seaman which bounced in off the underside of the bar.

Rooney netted 17 goals in 77 appearances before moving to Manchester United in 2004, but compared to Rooney’s breakthrough, Foden has gradually eased into the senior team at Manchester City.

After impressing in City’s youth set-up and for England in the Under-17 World Cup, Foden was included in several matchday squads before making his senior bow as a substitute for City in their Champions League clash against Feyenoord in November 2017.

He earned his full debut in the competition the following month before making his Premier League bow against Tottenham 10 days later and Foden made five league appearances in total for the club in the 2017-18 season, gradually cementing his spot in the City line-up over the following seasons.

Style of play

Although Rooney was deployed as a striker for the most part, he was able to play across the forward line and used his pace well to score and create goals.

As well as being involved in wider positions, towards the end of his time with United Rooney dropped into midfield, especially under manager Louis van Gaal.

Foden displays a similar versatility and the left-footed midfielder can play out wide or in attacking midfield.

His best performances seem to come from a more central position, which is where he played against Villa and admitted post-match that he prefers playing in the middle.

Manager Pep Guardiola also believes playing centrally benefits Foden and said: “When Phil plays in a central position he has a sense for goals and he proved it again.”


After bagging his second hat-trick of the season, Foden now moves onto 21 goals in all competitions, a career best for him.

His first senior treble came in the Manchester derby last campaign where Foden and Erling Haaland both scored three times in City’s 6-3 hammering of their neighbours.

Foden now has three Premier League hat-tricks to his name at the age of 23 and only needs another four to draw level with Rooney, who scored seven in the league.

His total Premier League tally adds up to 49 goals, with 81 in his Manchester City career overall, but he still has plenty of catching up to do with Rooney, who scored 208 times in the top flight and bagged a club-record 253 for Manchester United.

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