-- The list of Manchester United superstars, headed by George Best, Bobby Charlton and Denis Law, could soon feature a new name: Wayne Rooney.
None of those greats made the breathtaking impact in his Man U debut that the 18-year-old Rooney did Tuesday night, when he became the first Red Devils player in nearly a century to score a hat trick in his debut.
Old Trafford -- the "Theater of Dreams" -- has been the stage for some memorable moments over the years. But few can compare to Rooney's feat in a 6-2 win over Fenerbahce in the Champions League.
With three goals -- left foot, right foot, free kick, all from outside the penalty area -- the stocky striker secured his place in Man U folklore and made huge steps toward proving he's worth the $54.2 million the Red Devils paid to wrest him from Everton over the summer.
"Maybe he will become the player of the century," Fenerbahce Coach Christoph Daum said.
Rooney hadn't played a minute of competitive soccer since breaking his right foot in England's Euro 2004 quarterfinal loss to Portugal in June. He scored four goals in that event.
United Manager Alex Ferguson held Rooney out of last weekend's Premier League game against Tottenham, but threw him into the starting lineup Tuesday in European soccer's biggest club competition.
Rooney came out chewing gum and looking relaxed, clapping back at the fans who gave him a rousing ovation. It didn't take long for him to make his mark.
In the 17th minute, he ran onto a perfect pass from Ruud van Nistelrooy and unleashed a left-footed shot that flew past goalkeeper Rustu Recber.
Eleven minutes later, Rooney took a pass from Ryan Giggs, juked past one defender and fired a right-footed shot that beat a diving Recber.
Rooney got his third goal in the 55th minute with a curling free kick that would have made David Beckham proud. He also set up the team's sixth goal by flicking a header to David Bellion, and came close to scoring two more goals.
"I've never seen a debut like that before," Ferguson said. "He was magnificent. Everyone can see the potential the boy has, and you can't help but be excited by it. I think he can only get stronger, too."
Rooney combines the talents of United's greats. He has some of Best's dribbling skills, the powerful shooting of Charlton, Law's heading ability and Eric Cantona's audacious tricks. His free kick against the Turkish side showed United should no longer miss Beckham.
Among those attending Tuesday's game was England Coach Sven-Goran Eriksson, who will be thrilled to have Rooney back for World Cup qualifiers against Wales on Oct. 9 and Azerbaijan on Oct. 13. Rooney will likely start up front with Michael Owen, another former teen phenom.
Rooney is the first United player to score a hat trick in his debut in 99 years; Charlie Sagar did it against Bristol City in 1905.
Bobby Charlton made his first start at age 18 in October 1956, scoring two goals in a 4-2 win over Charlton.
Law scored after just seven minutes in his debut, a 2-2 tie with West Bromwich Albion in August 1962.
Best, 17, showed only glimpses of his magic in his first appearance, a 1-0 win over West Brom in September 1963.
Man U is in fifth place, seven points behind leader Arsenal, in the Premier League. But with Rooney now in the lineup, the Reds should contend for the title.
Ferguson can field a devastating duo up front in Rooney and Van Nistelrooy. The Dutch star scored the team's fifth goal Tuesday night, giving him 31 in 32 Champions League games.
"Considering it was the first time they have played together it holds great promise for us," Ferguson said.
The team's other strikers, Alan Smith and Louis Saha, could be fighting for playing time from now on.
But the club will have to cope with the intense media and public interest surrounding Rooney, who wasn't made available to reporters before or after the match. Rooney, who comes from a working class background, speaks in a thick Liverpool accent and is uncomfortable talking in public.
Like Everton Manager Steve Moyes before him, Ferguson will try to shield Rooney as much as possible.
"The important thing for me as a coach is for him to develop without too much press attention and public attention," Ferguson said, "and just to make him as ordinary as we can."