One of the greatest goalscorers of his generation and dutch football and Manchester United legend Rutgerus Johannes Martinus van Nistelrooy aka Ruud van Nistelrooy was born on this day back in 1976. He still holds the record of being the sixth-highest UEFA Champions League goalscorer with 56 goals after 8 long years since his retirement.
Ruud van Nistelrooy started his youth career at the age of 5 in Dutch side Nooit Gedacht‘s youth academy in 1981. After 9 years with the Gedacht, he moved to Den Bosch in 1990 where he’d make his senior debut later in 1991.
Senior Club Career
Nistelrooy was promoted to Den Bosch‘s senior team in 1993 at the age of just 17. He netted 17 times in his 69 league appearances with the Boschs’ before moving to Heerenveen in 1997. Goals followed wherever he stepped in, but he first came into the limelight of the footballing world after joining Eredivisie giants PSV Eindhoven in 1998. The dutchman scored 62 league goals for the Eindhoven outfit in just 67 appearances with the club in his 3 years spell.
Since the beginning of the new century, he started to be targeted by top clubs across the continent. English giants Manchester United were among them where Sir Alex Ferguson was building a dynasty and he was in need of a talismanic figure in his forward line. It was his son, Darren who brought van Nistelrooy into Sir Alex‘s vision. Darren was then at try-out at Eredivisie club Heerenveen and literally begged his father, “You’ve got to sign Van Nistelrooy right away, he’s fantastic. We’ve been watching him.” Sir Alex didn’t hesitate much and sent club representatives in PSV’s next league game and signed Nistelrooy the next day. But things didn’t go as planned as Nistelrooy suffered anterior cruciate ligament injury thus failing the medicals with United and the transfer was postponed. However, one year later in the summer of 2001 United secured his signing for a reported fee of around 19 million pounds. When asked about that hefty price tag by the reporters, Nistelrooy replied, “The price is not heavy for me – it lifts me up because it means United have big confidence in me.”
“Ruud van Nistelrooy has been the best – without a doubt, the best finisher we have ever had at this club. We have had some brilliant centre forwards at United. Eric Cantona was an incredible player. Then there was Mark Hughes and Brian McClair – who was very under-rated. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is a fabulous player. He would be good to have played with because you know that if you knock anything down to him he would score. Andy Cole had a great time with us. He and Dwight Yorke had that fantastic season in 1999 that year they were the best partnership in Europe. Teddy Sheringham was also good. Then you look at the current squad, with Alan Smith, Louis Saha and Wayne Rooney. But van Nistelrooy has been the best, absolutely the best finisher. If I had played alongside Ruud the problem would have been getting a chance ahead of him.”Sir Alex Ferguson
Ruud van Nistelrooy became an instant hit and fan favourite in his first season when he scored 23 times for the red devils in 32 Premier League games and rightfully named the PFA Players’ Player of The Year. However United couldn’t lift the league that season falling short of Arsene Wenger‘s Arsenal. 2002-03 season is vastly regarded as the best season of his glorious career when his goal tally reached 25 in 34 league games with three hat tricks and 12 in the UEFA Champions League earning him the UEFA Best striker of Europe award. He played a gargantuan for United in their reclaiming of the Premier League title and awarded Premier League player of the season. He scored in the last 8 matches of 2002-03 Premier League season and first 2 games of 2004-05 season thus reaching the milestone of scoring in 10 consecutive Premier League matches which was then a Premier League record.
My ambition is to combine the best of No. 9 and No. 10, as a striker who is also a team player and creator.Van Nistelrooy on his role
After five glorious seasons with the Red Devils, he departed Old Trafford in 2006, after bagging 150 goals in just 219 appearances and his 38 goals in the champions league made him then Manchester United top scorer in Europe which record was broken later by Wayne Rooney. He signed for Spanish giants Real Madrid on 29th July, 2006. He adapted to life in Spain in sumptuous fashion winning the Pichichi trophy(Trophy for the highest Goalscorer in La Liga) in his very first season with the Royal Whites. Then after 3 seasons in Madrid, he joined the Bundesliga outfit Hamburger SV but returned to Spain after just one season in Germany. He signed for Malaga CF in 2011 and after a year decided to hang up his boots in 2012.
Ruud van Nistelrooy’s international career might not be as glorious as his club career because of repeated injuries but he still holds the record of being Netherlands’ sixth-highest goal scorer of all time with 35 goals in 70 appearances for the Oranjes.
After an exuberant career as a player, he started his coaching internship at PSV’s under-17 side in 2013 and took over the u19 side in 2018. Besides his role at PSV, he was appointed as a backroom staff for Ronald Koeman in Dutch National team in December 2019.
Ruud van Nistelrooy’s life outside football
Born in Oss, North Brabant, Ruud van Nistelrooy was raised as a Roman Catholic. He married his girlfriend, Leontien Slaats, in July 2004 and has two children named Moa Annette and Liam. Van Nistelrooy and his wife are both heavily involved with the charity organization SOS Children’s Villages. The organization has been around since 1949 and is an international development charity which serves to protect the interests and rights of children.
To draw a conclusion, we’re safe to say that Ruud van Nistelrooy was a contrasting character. In spite of his talent and goalscoring ability, however, at times he drew criticism from managers, players and pundits for his controversial behaviour, as well as for having a tendency to be selfish, overly flamboyant, or for his penchant for simulation. But controversies can’t take away his sumptuous goalscoring ability and can’t belittle his illustrious career either. We wish him a very happy birthday and also wish him best of luck for his future managerial endeavours. Happy Birthday, legend!
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