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Ruud Van Nistelrooy 2001-2006 219 Games 150 Goals

December 14, 2009

Written by: Adam Carpenter

Ruud Van Nistelrooy was born in North Brabant, Holland on the 1st of July 1976. To sum up his career in football and his career at United was simple, a fox in the box. Anything that dropped to him in the 18 yard area was a goal, yes literally anything and he enjoyed a very successful time in England. The only thing that will raise your eyebrows and then agree with me was his goal scoring record. There wasn’t really a lot that consisted in Ruud’s game and he was a sort of one dimensional player, not blessed with tremendous pace, never the strongest, lacked ability in the air despite towering over 6 feet or he wasn’t one to be running all over the park covering every blade of grass, but like I say you could bank on him scoring every time he had a chance in the box, no matter who was in goal. He is the type of player that is known as a dying breed in the modern game. You don’t see many like Ruud around anymore and the only real striker known of to be such a goal poacher is fellow Dutch counterpart Klass Jan Huntelaar.

Incredibly he started out as a centre half at a young age and then was converted out to a centre forward, where he started at a small Dutch club called Den Bosch, he was only seventeen at the time and he made a decent name for himself as a rookie, and then attracted the attention of the Dutch big boys and first Heerenveen. He only spent one season with Heerenveen and scored 13 goals in the process as a young lad and he did enough to ensure himself a contract at PSV, where he did catch the attention from the biggest club in the world, and the best manager in the world. There was no looking back from Ruud when he heard that Man United was interested in him.

It was a bit of a job for Sir Alex to actually get his man from PSV Eindhoven due to ruptured ligaments in the knee. He had to wait nearly a year to sign his man for a hefty price of £19 million, and when he did, it turned out to be a good transfer. It was April 2001, he finally landed in Manchester permanently, and he signed a 5 year contract when he did sign, which he saw through and didn’t renew it.

Anyway, the reason that did persuade Sir Alex to pay £19 million for the tall Dutchman was because he watched him play in Holland and his scoring record was phenomenal even for the Dutch league. He scored 62 times in 67 matches for PSV, and it was the club scouts that recognised these achievements. He was then snapped up and went straight into the thick of the action in August 2001. He scored twice in a 32 win on his league debut against Fulham in the opening match of the 2001-2002 campaign and people fell in love with him already.  He continued to score many goals in his debut season in England and finished with 35 goals in all competitions and 23 in the premier league. Mainly all of his goals were tapping them in but with Ruud, he can in quantity and not quality, which is no doubt preferred in goals in football matches. His two most memorable strikes for United though have both been entered in the official United goal of the decade competition. Both were nearly the latter end of his stay in England and they were different in many ways but both breathtaking goals. His first one came two years after he signed against Fulham in a 3-0 victory at Old Trafford on the 22nd March 2003. He picked the ball up in his own half, shrugged off a Fulham midfielder with strength, skipped past four defenders, and then remarkably with the goalkeeper charging out at him he adjusted the angle of his body, and got the ball out of his feet early and shocked the keeper, with the ball rolling in the bottom corner. It really was something to saviour; the other marvellous goal came in November 2005 at The Valley against Charlton Athletic. This was a completely different type of goal, never the less still a stunning goal. Ruud did not create the goal for himself or run with the ball, he was standing in the box waiting for the ball, where Wayne Rooney amazingly took on four Charlton players from his own half all the way to the opposition box ran with the ball and then delightfully dinked it for Van Nistelrooy, who took it down on his chest and swivelled on the ball and lashed it into the top corner from 8 yards. One of the best combinations of assist and finishing strikes you will ever see. The reason why I am talking about these goals of such in-depth is because it is a rare moment to see Ruud score a magnificent goal.

The one competition Ruud has shined in over the years is the European Champions League. The man’s pedigree for scoring goals in this competition is undoubtedly incredible. He currently to this day lies as the second top scorer in the competition of all time to only Raul of Real Madrid, who has been around for donkey’s years. Ruud has 60 Champions league goals all together in his career. 38 of these goals came in the shirt of Manchester United. He holds the current record at the club for the most European goals of all time, and he overtook Denis Law when he scored his 29th against Lyon in the group stage in a 2-2 draw in 2004. In his debut season he scored 10 goals in the Champions league alone, which is a massive feat in itself and 35 goals overall. The following season he netted 44 times in all competitions which has also only ever been eclipsed by Denis Law who scored 48 goals in one single season. But Ruud was officially named a hero this season by the Old Trafford faithful. 14 of these goals came in the champions’ league, and this was a record for the most goals scored in a European competition in one season. The following season he was not quite as prolific but that was due to picking up injuries at certain times. For this what he has played a role in history in football and will never be forgotten by the Old Trafford faithful.

Ruud has also been a prolific goal scorer no surprise for his international nation Holland. He has scored better than a goal every other game where he has to date bagged 33 goals in 64 games.  Ruud has now retired from international football after being fed up by not being picked much despite proving himself to Marco Van Basten. He was consistently scoring for Holland and decided to call it a day in January 2007 as he thought he could do no more. But after all of the harassment to come out of retirement, he did for a little while and featured for his country at Euro 2008. He scored twice in this competition and after Holland was knocked out in the quarter final he decided to retire again, and has not returned since.

The manner in how Van Nistelrooy left Old Trafford was not a good one considering he enjoyed a good time with United. The main reason was Louis Saha was keeping him out of the side towards the back end of the 2005-2006 season. He was left out of the starting line up and benched for the carling cup final where Saha played and scored as United won 4-0 against Wigan Athletic. Ruud collected his winner medal and then was ashamed and marched off down the tunnel on his own while his team mates were celebrating their success. This led to rife speculation of a fall out between Ferguson and Van Nistelrooy had an argument which led to Ruud leaving the club. He also had a bust up with Cristiano Ronaldo at the end of the season and this was the final straw in his Manchester United career.

There is no doubt to date Ruud has lost his killer instinct touch at Real Madrid, compared to what he did at Manchester United and PSV Eindhoven. He has been injured consistently and never really wowed the Spanish Bernabeu crowd. But nevertheless still scoring quite a few goals as usual. His best days will no doubt be remembered in England at United.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. December 14, 2009 8:29 pm

    Brilliant post Carpi. Rudd was one of my favourites. Like you said, he was a box man. Here in Scotand they have had some great box men. Henrick Larson (Celtic), Ally Mcoist (Rangers) and one at the moment in Boyd (Rangers). Larson was a wee bit differant and not so much a box man but reminded me a lot like Rudd. Rudd Van will always go down to me as one of the greatest we have had up front.

    • adam (carpy) permalink
      December 17, 2009 11:08 pm

      i certainly agree audouc ruud is one of best ever strikers. It was ashame in the manner he left the club though but will always be remembered.
      Like i mentoined, i personally believe that Ruud was a dying breed and the likes of Kris Boyd are too. You dont see many of those strikers around anymore. The position has evolved to all action like rooney and tevez.

  2. Harris permalink
    January 28, 2010 4:54 pm

    Ruud is arguably one of the best strikers in the world when he was in his prime the manner in which he left old traford was not good but he will be surely be remembered by d utd fans as one of their greatest strikers of all Times

  3. Cristen Bruneau permalink
    February 6, 2010 5:39 am

    This is an awesome article, I�ll be adding you to my list.

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