Wayne Rooney scored on his second Premier League debut for Everton
The Toffees forward is aware that, at 31, even some of the Goodison Park crowd are unsure if he still has what it takes.
Is there life left in those legs that have been terrorising Premier League defences since he was 16? Has he still got the hunger after earning millions over a trophy-laden 13 years at Manchester United?
On his first Premier League game for the Toffees since 2004, the boyhood blue provided the first proof that yes could be the answer to both of those questions.
Not just with his match-winning header in the first half, but also in the way when Everton went forward everything seemed to go through him.
Even in the latter stages when fatigue had set in, it was Rooney putting in the ball-winning tackles and showing the maturity needed to see the game out.
There are some fans who thought I wasn’t good enough to come back
Everton star Wayne Rooney
The former United captain could have opted for an easier life scoring goals in China for silly money or living on the west coast of the US while cruising through MLS games, but he is now leading by example at his club.
“There is a lot of expectation, coming back here,” said Rooney.
“There are still some fans who maybe thought I wasn’t good enough to come back here. But it is up to me to prove myself.
“I have been working hard and I am ready for that challenge to prove myself.
Ronald Koeman still wants to bring more players to Everton
"I could have gone to another Premier League team and taken my foot off the gas and seen the last few years out. But coming back here? I have got to be the best I can be.
“It is the club I grew up supporting, it’s the club I want to play for. I want to do well.”
Rooney’s header from Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s cross on the stroke of half-time was the difference in a tight game at Goodison Park.
But after keeper Jordan Pickford pulled off a great late save to deny Xherdan Shaqiri from distance, it was Rooney’s game management that helped see out the game as he won challenges and did not waste possession.
Everton boss Ronald Koeman was crying out for players who knew how to manage games better last season when they chucked away leads and points.
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“He is an intelligent player and with his experience when the team needs patience, when the team needs a fall, he is going down instead of Idrissa Gueye or Tom Davies – they try and always stand and win the battle,” said Koeman.
“That is down to the cleverness of the player. We did not sign Wayne because he will score 25 goals-a-season. He will bring experience, winning mentality and cleverness to the team. That is the main reason we signed Wayne.”
Rooney added: “Football fans aren’t silly. Everyone knows I’m not the explosive player who was here when I was 16 to 18. My game has changed. I’m a lot cleverer than I was back then.”
His former United team-mate Darren Fletcher was left frustrated his Stoke side did not come away with more after his first competitive game for the club as they had chances.
But he is happy for his old pal to have rekindled his career at his boyhood club.