Jose Mourinho has admitted it was hard to let Wayne Rooney return to Everton.
Striker Rooney rejoined boyhood club the Toffees 13 years after switching for Manchester United on Sunday.
And Mourinho has paid tribute to the Red Devils all-time record goalscorer – despite making him a bit part player last season.
England hit man Rooney only started 15 Premier League matches under Mourinho and netted a personal low seven times across all formats.
But the Portuguese said: “It is no secret that I have long been an admirer of Wayne; he has been a model professional throughout his time at the club and will remain in the history books for many years to come.
“It is never easy to see a great player playing less football than he would like and I could not stand in his way when he asked to go back to Everton. His experience, focus and determination will be missed and I wish him well for the future.”
United CEO Ed Woodward added: “Wayne has been a fantastic servant to United since the moment he signed for us as a prodigiously talented, explosive teenager some 13 seasons ago.
“Who can forget his storybook debut hat trick against Fenerbahce, the spectacular overhead kick against City and the countless match-winning performances in his time here? But after much discussion, the club has decided to accept his request to rejoin his boyhood team.
“He goes having created some of the most magical moments in some of the most successful years in the club’s history. Wayne leaves us as our greatest ever goalscorer and having won every major trophy in the game.
“His record will take decades for anyone to get close to matching and I am extremely grateful for the way he has led from the front since being appointed club captain three years ago.
“On behalf of the whole club and our hundreds of millions of fans around the world, we wish Wayne all the very best for the next phase of his incredible career.”