Wayne Rooney proved his love for Everton never wavered by wearing Toffees pyjamas during his 13-year stay at Manchester United.
The England striker completed his emotional return to Goodison Park yesterday and revealed his bizarre secret.
“To be honest, I’ve kept it quiet for the last 13 years but I’ve actually been wearing Everton pyjamas at home with my kids,” he said. “I had to keep that a bit quiet!
“It’s great. Wearing the shirt feels as special as it did 13 years ago and I’m just looking forward now to getting out on the pitch with it on.”
Rooney’s love for Everton always stayed with him even when the Blues fans turned against him and it had appeared he had turned too.
He upset many Toffees when he forced his way to Old Trafford in 2004.
Just two years earlier a 16-year-old Rooney, who joined the club aged nine, had revealed a T-shirt while celebrating that declared “Once a Blue, Always a Blue”.
But when he returned to Goodison for the first time as a United player in 2015 one banner read “Once a Blue, now a Red, in our hearts, you are dead”.
Rooney received abuse and often retaliated on his trips back there as he kissed the United badge to rile the fans who once adored him.
But in recent years a more mature Rooney started to mend bridges with those he had previously upset.
Privately he had maintained his support for the club while giving his all for United.
But when he returned for Duncan Ferguson’s testimonial in 2015 it was the sign that Everton fanswere starting to forgive him.
He received a warm welcome during his brief appearance but he felt at home again and mentioned how he was happy his kids got to see him in an Everton kit.
Unknown to the public, they were regularly seeing him in Toffees colours at home.
A return to Everton then was still unrealistic though because of his wages at United and their current financial situation.
But once the Toffees secured the ambition and cash of investor Farhad Moshiri, suddenly it became more than a fanciful dream Rooney was having while in his Everton pyjamas and this weekend turned into reality.
“As I’ve said for the last few years, if I left Manchester United, there’s only Everton and Manchester United I’d play for – I wouldn’t play for another Premier League team,” said Rooney.
“I was true to that and I firmly meant that. I didn’t want to play for another club in England other than Everton.
“Once I knew Everton were interested and wanted to sign me, I made my agent aware, ‘Go and speak to them, let’s make it happen. That’s where I want to go’.”
Now he is back he is determined to end Everton’s 22-year wait for silverware, a feat he admits would eclipse even his greatest achievements with United.
Rooney was at Wembley as a nine-year-old when Everton beat United in the 1995 FA Cup final.
“Winning trophies with Everton would be the pinnacle,” he said. “I was there in 95 and Everton should have won more trophies since then.
“I really feel now the club is moving in the right direction, bringing the right calibre of players in. I want to be part of it and hopefully part of a successful Everton team.
“With the new stadium in the pipeline, it’s an exciting time to be an Everton player, to be an Everton fan.
“It’s on us players to make those times even more exciting by giving them good performances and try to help them be successful and bring trophies to the club.
“I firmly believe we have the potential to be a success in the league and there’s the cup competitions. We’re certainly capable of winning one of those cups.”