Former England captain Wayne Rooney has been named as the new head coach of Championship club Birmingham City as he makes a sensational return to English football.
Manchester United's all-time leading scorer Rooney has succeeded John Eustace in the dugout at St Andrew's and he takes over a club riding high in the top six of the Championship standings.
Speculation linking Rooney with a move to Birmingham had gathered pace following his departure from MLS outfit DC United earlier this month and he will now set about securing the Blues promotion back to the Premier League for the first time since 2011.
Birmingham are currently 10 points off the top-two positions in the second tier, but they are 16/1 to go on and secure promotion, while they can be backed at to finish in the top six.
There were more than one or two eyebrows raised when Birmingham made the decision to bring Eustace's 15-month tenure as head coach to an end on Monday, with the 43-year-old having done a more than stellar job during his time in the role.
Eustace comfortably kept the Blues in the Championship last season as they finished 17th, despite having to deal with plenty of turmoil off the field, including two failed takeover bids.
The club's future was then secured over the summer following its acquisition by Shelby Companies Limited, led by American businessman Tom Wagner, while former NFL superstar Tom Brady also invested in the club the following month.
With superstar backing in the boardroom, there felt like an air of inevitability that the new owners may look to make a change in the dugout, and so it proved, with Eustace relieved of his duties despite leading the club into the play-off places and having just recorded back-to-back home wins over Huddersfield and local rivals West Brom.
Just hours after that 3-1 victory over the Baggies, across the pond Rooney was saying his goodbyes to DC United and there were already people starting to join the dots.
That speculation has now been confirmed, with Rooney now set to take charge of the Blues for the first time when they travel to the Riverside Stadium on 21st October to take on an improving Middlesbrough side managed by the 37-year-old's former Manchester United team-mate Michael Carrick.
Birmingham are 16/5 to make a winning start under Rooney in the Full Time Result market, while Boro are 10/11 to secure what would be their sixth victory in a row across all competitions. The draw is available at .
One of English football's greatest ever players, Rooney first embarked on his coaching career when he signed for Derby as a player/coach in January 2020.
Rooney combined his playing and coaching duties until the following November when he was named Derby's caretaker manager in the wake of Phillip Cocu's sacking, officially retiring from playing two months later before leading the Rams to Championship survival.
His second season in charge proved a tough one, as Derby dealt with numerous financial issues off the pitch and a 21-point deduction on it. Eventually, despite Rooney's best efforts (they would have finished 17th without the points deduction) the Rams were relegated in 23rd-place.
It initially looked like Rooney would stay on as Derby boss and lead their push for an instant return to the Championship, but with the club still in administration, he resigned in June 2022.
Just four weeks after leaving Derby, Rooney was named head coach of one of his former club's DC United and he spent 15 months with the Washington based outfit, but after missing out on the MLS Cup play-offs this season, it was decided by mutual consent that he would move on.
Birmingham have not played in the Premier League since suffering relegation in 2011 and they have spent much of the intervening years languishing in the bottom half of the Championship standings.
However, under new ownership and thanks to strong foundations put in place by Eustace over the opening 11 games of the season, there is perhaps hope that a return to the top flight could be on the cards this term.
The Blues are still relative outsiders to earn promotion at and Rooney will face a baptism of fire in the dugout, as following his first match in charge against an improving Middlesbrough, his next four games will be against sides currently in the top 10.
Rooney's first home match will come when Hull arrive at St Andrew's on 25th October before they travel to opposite ends of the country for away clashes with Southampton (28th October) and Sunderland (11th November), with a home game against second-placed Ipswich sandwiched in between on 4th November.
We will certainly know a little more about Rooney's Birmingham after those fixtures and only time will tell if the Blues have made the right call in appointing one of the game's most famous faces.