Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney says he is “honoured” to be level with Sir Bobby Charlton as the club’s all-time leading goalscorer – but wants to break the record soon.
His FA Cup strike against Reading took Rooney, 31, to 249 goals in 543 games, reaching the landmark 215 matches and four seasons quicker than Charlton.
“It’s a proud moment,” he said.
“We’ve got two home games coming up this week so hopefully I can get the next one in one of those.”
United play Hull City in the first leg of their League Cup semi-final on Tuesday (20:00 GMT kick-off), before taking on Liverpool in the Premier League at 16:00 on 15 January.
“This club is a huge part of my life and I’m honoured to be up there alongside Sir Bobby,” said Rooney after Saturday’s 4-0 win over the Royals at Old Trafford.
- Watch: Rooney in one word – fans’ verdict
- Listen: Rooney was always going to break records – Moyes
- Football Daily podcast: Rooney equals record & FA Cup round-up
‘He was always going to break records’
United manager Jose Mourinho said: “A more special day will arrive. It was great but I want one more goal. He is an amazing guy in the group and we all want him to do it. To have Wayne as the top scorer in a club like this is magnificent for him.”
Reading boss Jaap Stam, who played 127 times for United, added: “Wayne has been a great player from the beginning. He is a player who works very hard for the team and you could see that in the game. With the quality he has as an individual and the quality players he is playing with, it makes him an outstanding player.
“It is not surprising he has scored this many goals. Even when they are 4-0 up, he is still sprinting and running for the ball.”
In 2015, Rooney surpassed World Cup winner Charlton’s England scoring record of 49 goals and has since taken his international tally to 53.
The United landmark comes during a season in which the England captain has been left out of the starting line-up for both club and country, his record-equalling goal being just his fourth of the campaign.
Former United manager David Moyes, now at Sunderland, added: “First of all it’s congratulations. To even get mentioned in the same breath as Sir Bobby Charlton, who for so many people is a great for what he did with England and Manchester United, is an achievement.
“You have to give Wayne Rooney credit for the limelight he has had to work under and the pressure people continually put on him.
“He has had a great career. It comes to an end at some time in football and sometimes you drop off a little bit but Wayne was always going to break the records in my eyes. The times I have worked with him he was always very good. A great player, a great trainer and someone who always wanted to go about his business well.”
How has Rooney done it?
The signs were there from the very start that Rooney’s could be a stellar Old Trafford career.
In his first game following a £27m move from Everton in 2004, he scored a hat-trick against Fenerbahce in a 6-2 Champions League win.
He has not looked back since, reaching double figures in every season at the club, including a career-high 34 in all competitions in 2009-10 and 2011-12.
How his scoring record compares
Rooney and Charlton are ahead of some of the finest players that Manchester United and British football has known.
Charlton, who came up through the United youth system, spent 17 years at Old Trafford before finishing his career with spells at Preston and Irish side Waterford United.
And despite his consistency over such a long period, he never managed to hit the 30-goal mark in a single season, coming closest when he struck 29 times during his third season at Old Trafford.
Despite Rooney’s scoring bursts, his goals have not come at the fastest rate. Tommy Taylor, who was a two-time title winner with United in the 1950s, holds that honour, just ahead of former Netherlands international Ruud van Nistelrooy.
Rooney’s ratio of 0.459 goals per game puts him eighth on the list, while Charlton (0.328) does not even make the top 10.
Where does Rooney rank in list of Man Utd greats?
Phil McNulty, BBC Sport’s chief football writer
Rooney has secured his place in Manchester United history and Old Trafford’s hall of greats with his record-equalling goalscoring feats.
However, he will have to resign himself to never being held in the same esteem, and place of legend, as the likes of Charlton, George Best and Denis Law.
Indeed, despite his lofty place in United’s record books, the 31-year-old will never be revered by United’s supporters in the same manner as the maverick Old Trafford catalyst Eric Cantona, the great leaders Roy Keane and Bryan Robson, and brilliant home-grown products such as Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville.
This may seem brutally unfair given his contribution to United’s successes, but there are several factors at work when his place in the club’s historical affections is measured.
Rooney was an expensive import from Merseyside, while Charlton, who survived the 1958 Munich air disaster, led United to their first European Cup in 1968 and stands alongside his great mentor Sir Matt Busby and Sir Alex Ferguson as an iconic Old Trafford figure.
Best and Law came alongside Charlton as United’s ‘Holy Trinity’ as the club emerged from the tragedy of Munich, while Cantona was the great transformer in the early 90s and the likes of Robson and Keane were world-class players and warriors.
Rooney’s chequered history with the club and its fans will also have an impact on his legacy when his contribution to United – a truly great one when judged solely in a football context – is reflected upon.
In many eyes, Rooney will never quite be forgiven for the episode in October 2010 when he decided he wanted to leave, then further strained his relationship with club and fans by issuing a statement which effectively said United lacked ambition and questioned the quality of his team-mates.
This was resolved within days when he signed a new five-year-contract, but the memory has lingered for many. There was another disagreement late in the 2012-13 season as Ferguson prepared for retirement and made it clear Rooney again wanted to leave – a claim that led to the player being jeered by some fans as he collected his title winner’s medal at Old Trafford.
Fans and those who record history and legends take these matters into account.
What must also be remembered is that Rooney has had a stellar United career littered with trophies, brilliance and game-changing moments. He fully deserves to be remembered as one of the greats of Old Trafford.
There will, however, be many more remembered before him.