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Soccer: Wayne Rooney resigns as coach of relegated Derby County

June 24 (UPI) -- English soccer legend Wayne Rooney informed League One club Derby County that he is resigning as manager, the Derby County, England, team announced Friday.

Rooney, 36, coached the club for two seasons. The Rams totaled 14 wins, 13 draws and 19 losses last season in the Football League Championship and were demoted to English Football League One, the country's third tier league for soccer.

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Derby County's joint administrators said in a news release that they were "very disappointed" with Rooney's decision to leave.

"Over the course of the Summer I have been closely following developments regarding the ownership of Derby County," Rooney said in the release.

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"Today I met with the administrators to inform them of my decision that it was time for me to leave the club. In fairness to them, they tried tremendously hard to change my decision but my mind was made up."

Derby County last appeared in the Premier League, England's top soccer league, in 2007-08. The Rams were relegated the next season to the second-tier and remained in the Football League Championship until their latest relegation.

"The joint administrators are very disappointed that Wayne has taken the difficult decision to leave the club and we have spent some time today trying to persuade him to stay but understand his reasons for wanting to go," the joint administrators of Derby County said.

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"We are extremely grateful to him for his excellent work in the face of challenging on-field circumstances in the 2021-22 season and admire the manner in which he has led the team, the club and the local community through various off-field issues."

Rooney was a player-manager when he first joined the club. He retired from soccer in 2021 to become permanent manager. Derby County finished 21st in 2020-21 and 23rd in 2021-22.

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"My time at the club has been a rollercoaster of emotions, both highs and lows, but I have to say that I have enjoyed the challenge," Rooney said.

"Personally, I feel the club now needs to be led by someone with fresh energy and not affected by the events that have happened over the last eighteen months. I will remember my time at Derby with great pride and affection and would like to thank all my staff, players and of course the fans for their incredible support. I will never forget you and hope to see you all again in the near future and in happier times."

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Rooney spent his playing career at Everton, Manchester United and DC United from 2002 to 2020. He also made 120 appearances for the England men's national team.

Clowes Developments Ltd., a local property developer, announced Friday that it purchased Pride Park, Derby County's stadium. The English Football League announced earlier this month that American businessman Chris Kirchner withdrew an offer to buy the team.

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