Ruud van Nistelrooy

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Ruud van Nistelrooy
Ruud van Nistelrooij
Personal information
Full name Rutgerus Johannes Martinus van Nistelrooy
Date of birth (1976-07-01) 1 July 1976 (age 38)
Place of birth Oss, North Brabant, Netherlands
Height 1.88 m (6 ft 2 in)[1]
Playing position Striker
Club information
Current team
Netherlands (assistant manager)
Youth career
Nooit Gedacht
RKSV Margriet
Den Bosch
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1993–1997 Den Bosch 69 (17)
1997–1998 Heerenveen 31 (13)
1998–2001 PSV Eindhoven 67 (62)
2001–2006 Manchester United 150 (95)
2006–2010 Real Madrid 68 (46)
2010–2011 Hamburger SV 36 (12)
2011–2012 Málaga 28 (4)
Total 449 (249)
National team
1998–2011 Netherlands 70 (35)
Teams managed
2014– Netherlands (assistant manager)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).

Rutgerus Johannes Martinus "Ruud" van Nistelrooy (Dutch: Ruud van Nistelrooij; Dutch pronunciation: [ˈryt fɑn ˈnɪstəlroːi̯] ( );[2] born 1 July 1976) is a retired Dutch footballer and current assistant manager for the Dutch National Football Team. He is the fourth-highest goalscorer in Champions League history with 56 goals. He is a three-time Champions League top scorer, as well as a top scorer in three different European domestic leagues.

Van Nistelrooy began his career with Den Bosch, before moving onto Heerenveen, eventually making a name for himself at PSV Eindhoven where he won two Dutch leagues. His goalscoring record at PSV attracted attention from Manchester United; a deal was in place in the summer of 2000, but because of injury problems his move was secured a year later for a then British record fee of £19 million. His time at United was successful, winning the Premier League, FA Cup, Football League Cup and FA Community Shield, along with winning the Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year twice. Van Nistelrooy hit 150 goals in just 219 games for United, as well as being their all time European record goalscorer, but fell out of favour towards the end of his tenure. Real Madrid then secured his services in 2006. Although an injury blighted the end of his days with Madrid, he did win La Liga twice and the Supercopa de España before signing for Hamburger SV during the January transfer window in 2010. After a season-and-a-half with Hamburg, he moved back to Spain with Málaga in the summer of 2011. His retirement from football was announced on 14 May 2012.

Club career[edit]

Early career[edit]

Born in Oss, North Brabant, Van Nistelrooy started his professional career in 1993 with Dutch second division side Den Bosch, where he was converted from a central midfielder to centre forward after playing part-time for Nooit Gedacht and Margriet. After netting 12 goals in 31 games in the 1996–97 campaign, he transferred for 360,000 to Heerenveen the next year, and scored 13 goals in 31 matches in his only season with the club. He was then signed by PSV Eindhoven the next season for €6.3 million, a then-record transfer sum between two Dutch teams.

He scored 31 goals in 34 matches, the highest season total in the Eredivisie and second-highest in Europe overall, in addition to scoring all three of PSV's goals in a Champions League match against HJK Helsinki on 25 November 1998. Van Nistelrooy capped off the year by winning the Dutch Player of the Year award. The following season, he won his second Eredivisie scoring title with 29 goals. According to a 2001 interview with The Telegraph, Manchester United coach Sir Alex Ferguson said that his son Darren, who was at try-outs for Eredivisie rival Heerenveen at the time, begged his father, "You've got to sign Van Nistelrooy right away, he's fantastic. We've been watching him."[3] Ferguson sent team representatives to PSV's next league game and signed Van Nistelrooy the next day.[3]

Manchester United[edit]

Van Nistelrooy playing for Manchester United against Chelsea.

Van Nistelrooy looked set to complete a club record £18.5 million transfer to Manchester United in the summer of 2000.[4] He was to be unveiled at a press conference four days later, but this was instead used to announce that the transfer had been postponed over concerns about his fitness, having not played for a month due to problems with his knee.[5] The transfer was then cancelled after PSV refused to agree to further medical tests,[6][7] and the next day he suffered ruptured his anterior cruciate knee ligaments during a training session, leaving him injured for a year.[8][9]

A year later, van Nistelrooy signed a five-year contract after passing his medical.[10] He downplayed United's £19 million investment to reporters, saying "The price is not heavy for me – it lifts me up because it means United have big confidence in me."[3] During his first season, van Nistelrooy scored 23 goals in 32 league games. He broke the record he shared with Mark Stein, Alan Shearer and Thierry Henry, by scoring in eight consecutive league games. He also scored 10 Champions League goals, and was named the PFA Players' Player of the Year.

The following season, he finished as the top Premier League scorer with 25 goals in 34 games, with a goal on the final day against Everton earning him the Golden Boot ahead of Thierry Henry.[11] His tally included three hat-tricks against Newcastle United,[12] Fulham,[13] and Charlton Athletic.[14] He also scored in each of the final eight games of the season as United won the title. Van Nistelrooy won the Premier League Player of the Season in 2003.[15][16] He was accredited with spearheading the title win for United with a goal tally that was described as "astonishing".[17] After scoring 12 Champions League goals, he was named by UEFA was the best striker in Europe.[18]

Van Nistelrooy started the 2003–04 season by scoring twice in his first two league matches, which boosted his goals in consecutive games record to 10 matches in a row. In the 0–0 draw on 21 September 2003, later dubbed the Battle of Old Trafford, Van Nistelrooy was at the centre of one of the most infamous incidents of the Arsenal–Manchester United rivalry. After missing a last-minute penalty that would have won the game for United,[19] Van Nistelrooy was attacked by Martin Keown, prompting a melee involving several players from both sides; five Arsenal players including Keown received various bans and fines, while the club itself received a record fine of £175,000.[20][21] Earlier in the game, he had been fouled by Patrick Vieira, who was sent off for a second bookable offence. Vieira and his manager Arsène Wenger both accused Van Nistelrooy of cheating and stamping on Vieira,[22][23] prompting a vociferous defence by Alex Ferguson.[24]

On 27 September, he scored a hat-trick against Leicester City in a 4–1 victory.[25] He scored his 100th goal for the club in a dramatic 4–3 victory over Everton on 7 February 2004.[26] He scored two goals, including one penalty, in United's victory over Millwall in the 2004 FA Cup Final.[27]

Van Nistelrooy missed a large part of the 2004–05 season due to injury, but nonetheless scored a Champions League-best eight goals. One of them was his 30th career European goal, which he scored in a 2–2 Champions League group stage draw with Lyon on 16 September 2004, overtaking Denis Law's previous club record of 28 goals. Law later said to reporters, "I'm delighted for Ruud. It could not happen to a nicer guy."[28]

On 24 October, Arsenal returned to Old Trafford for another dramatic fixture. Arsenal entered the fixture with 49-game unbeaten run and had been dubbed The Invincibles, but United won the game 2–0. Van Nistelrooy scored the opening goal from the penalty spot, atoning for the penalty miss the previous year, with Wayne Rooney scoring a second.[29][30] Van Nistelrooy was later banned for three games for a foul on Ashley Cole that the referee had missed.[31] On 3 November, Van Nistelrooy scored all four goals in a 4–1 win against Sparta Prague.[32] On 17 April 2005, he scored two goals in the FA Cup semi-final in a 4–1 win against Newcastle United,[33] but United lost the final on penalties to Arsenal.[34]

Van Nistelrooy shields the ball during a match against Tottenham Hotspur.

At the start of the 2005–06 season, Van Nistelrooy scored in United's first four Premier League games. He finished as the second-highest league scorer with 21 goals, behind Arsenal's Thierry Henry. However, he was benched for the League Cup Final against Wigan Athletic, fuelling speculation of a rift between him and Alex Ferguson, which Van Nistelrooy denied. He was nonetheless left on the bench for six consecutive league matches, and though he then returned to the starting line-up and scored match-winners against West Ham United and Bolton Wanderers, fresh doubt spread over Van Nistelrooy's future when he was benched for United's season finale win over Charlton Athletic. Ferguson claimed that Van Nistelrooy was angry at the decision and left the stadium three hours before kick-off.[35][36] On 9 May 2006, it was reported that van Nistelrooy's exclusion from the squad was due to a training session fight between him and team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo. Van Nistelrooy allegedly criticised Ronaldo's tendency to hold onto the ball instead of passing to his team-mates, which sparked the fight, after which Van Nistelrooy remarked, "Go crying to your daddy."[37] Van Nistelrooy later apologised to Ferguson for his behaviour in the last few months.[38]

Van Nistelrooy signed with Spanish La Liga side Real Madrid on 28 July, departing Old Trafford after five seasons with a total of 150 goals in 219 appearances, with his final goal coming on 1 April against Bolton Wanderers, scoring what proved to be the winning goal.[39] With 38 goals, he is also the club's all-time European top goalscorer.

Real Madrid[edit]

Van Nistelrooy playing for Real Madrid.

On 15 July 2006, Ferguson confirmed that Van Nistelrooy wanted to leave Manchester United and Real Madrid announced two weeks later that he had signed a three-year contract after being purchased for €14 million.[40]

Van Nistelrooy scored a hat-trick in his second league match against Levante and, on 12 November 2006, he scored all four of Real Madrid's goals in a 4–1 victory over Osasuna. He won the league's Pichichi award with 25 goals as Real Madrid took home the 2006–07 title, and he also equalled the longest consecutive scoring streak in La Liga history with seven straight matches, tying a league record shared by Hugo Sánchez.[41]

In January 2008, Van Nistelrooy signed a contract extension keeping him with Madrid until 2010, with the expiration date one day shy of his 34th birthday.[42] He underwent ankle surgery in March,[43] and returned for the El Clásico derby against Barcelona on 7 May, in which he netted a penalty two minutes after coming on as a substitute.[44] He finished the season with 20 goals in 33 appearances.

Van Nistelrooy signing autographs while at Real Madrid.

In November 2008, Real Madrid announced that Van Nistelrooy would miss the remainder of the 2008–09 season after exploratory arthroscopic surgery revealed a partially torn meniscus in his right knee, with an expected recovery time of six to nine months following a second operation to repair the damage.[45] Van Nistelrooy travelled to the United States to see specialist Richard Steadman, who had previously operated on the same knee back in 2000. At the time of his injury, he had 10 goals in 12 club appearances for the season.[46] Following the injury, he was de-registered by Real Madrid for the rest of the 2008–09 season, and his shirt number was given to Daniel Parejo. On 24 August 2009, in the last preseason game before the start of La Liga, Van Nistelrooy stepped on the pitch for the first time since his injury and played the last 15 minutes of the game against Rosenborg, substituting Kaká. Van Nistelrooy came on for Cristiano Ronaldo in the 80th minute against Xerez in his first La Liga match since recovering from his injury. In the 81st minute, he provided the assist for a Benzema goal, following it with his own 88th minute goal. However, during his strike, he picked up a thigh injury. It was revealed by Real Madrid that he would be out from first team action for up to six weeks.[47] On 27 October, Van Nistelrooy made his second comeback of the season coming on as a substitute for Raúl in the 71st minute against Alcorcon in the Copa del Rey.

Hamburger SV[edit]

On 23 January 2010, Van Nistelrooy signed an 18-month contract with the German club Hamburger SV until June 2011.[48][49] He made his first appearance for the club, coming off the bench in the last two minutes of Hamburg's 3–3 draw with 1. FC Köln on 6 February.[50] Van Nistelrooy scored his first two goals for Hamburg on 13 February 2010 against Stuttgart in the 75th and 77th minutes of a 3–1 win, after entering the game just a few minutes prior.[51] On 11 March 2010, Van Nistelrooy scored his first Europa League goal in the 40th minute of Hamburg's match against Anderlecht.[52]

On 15 August 2010, Van Nistelrooy scored his only competitive hat-trick with Hamburg, in a 5–1 win over Torgelower SV Greif in the first round of the 2010–11 DFB-Pokal.[53] On 21 August 2010, he scored a brace in Hamburg's season opener against Schalke 04, which HSV won 2–1. During that match he played against his friend and former Real Madrid team-mate Raúl, who made his Bundesliga debut. In the January transfer window, Van Nistelrooy was linked a return move back to Real Madrid and could be used for a short-term basis to cover, following injuries of Gonzalo Higuaín and Karim Benzema as manager José Mourinho would be happy for Van Nistelrooy to join the club as Mourinho left the door for him.[54] Van Nistelrooy admitted he seriously considered moving back to the club if the bid happened.[55] However, the club rejected Real Madrid's bid for Van Nistelrooy, giving the club a warning as Hamburg wants to keep hold of him until the transfer window ended.[56] Despite being angered over his move to Real Madrid rejected, Van Nistelrooy said he would remain committed at Hamburg[57] During a match between Hamburg and Hannover 96 on 16 April 2011, Van Nistelrooy suffered a calf injury that kept him out until the last matchday.

Van Nistelrooy scored seven goals and made two assists in 25 appearances in his only full season with Hamburg.[58]


Van Nistelrooy being introduced as a Málaga player.

On 1 June 2011, Van Nistelrooy arrived at Málaga CF to sign a one-year contract with the La Liga club on a free transfer.[59] After joining the club, Van Nistelrooy was presented at the Estadio La Rosaleda as he was welcomed by 15,000 Málaga fans.[60] Van Nistelrooy made his debut in a 2–1 loss against Sevilla on the opening game of the season.

On 1 October 2011, while playing against Getafe, he scored his first goal for Málaga. On 21 December, against the same club, he opened the scoring with a volley as Málaga won 3–2 on aggregate in the Copa del Rey. Later on in the season, Van Nistelrooy scored two more goals in the league against Espanyol and Racing de Santander, which was the last goal of his career. Just one day before his retirement, Van Nistelrooy made his last appearance of his career, coming on as a substitute in the 75th minute for goalscorer José Salomón Rondón who scored the only goal in the game against Sporting de Gijón.

On 14 May 2012, he announced his retirement from football at the age of 35.[61] Van Nistelrooy told Sport1 he previously made hints that his football career was coming to an end after insisting Málaga would be his last club.[62]

International career[edit]

Van Nistelrooy earned 70 caps and scored 35 goals for the Netherlands. He made his debut for the national team in a friendly match against Germany on 18 November 1998.[63] However, the cruciate ligament injury which postponed his transfer to Manchester United also ruled Van Nistelrooy out of Euro 2000.[64]

Van Nistelrooy (front) with Robin van Persie

As the Dutch failed to qualify for the 2002 World Cup, Van Nistelrooy did not make his tournament debut for the Netherlands until Euro 2004, where he and the Czech Republic's Milan Baroš were the only players to score in all three group stage matches. During a 2006 World Cup qualifying match, he scored in the Dutch's 4–0 hammering of bottom-placed Andorra and was yellow-carded for going to Andorra player Antoni Lima and celebrating in front of him, following an incident six minutes before when Van Nistelrooy missed a penalty and Lima laughed at him.[65] He was a part of coach Marco van Basten's squad for the 2006 World Cup finals, for which he served as the official FIFA/SOS ambassador.[66] He started, and was substituted, in all of the Netherlands' group stage matches, and scored his lone goal against the Côte d'Ivoire. Van Nistelrooy was dropped to the bench by Van Basten without an explanation for the Netherlands' second round match, which saw them eliminated by Portugal.

Van Basten left the striker out of the squad for a friendly against Ireland on 16 August 2006.[67] Dirk Kuyt replaced Van Nistelrooy in their next match against Portugal in September.[68] After Klaas-Jan Huntelaar was unavailable for Euro 2008 qualifiers against Bulgaria and Belarus due to injury, Van Nistelrooy refused Van Basten's request to take his place on the roster.

On 23 January 2007, Van Nistelrooy announced his retirement from international football following continued disputes with coach Marco van Basten, which had started back in 2006 during the course of the World Cup finals matches.[69] However, after several phone conversations and at the persuasion of veteran Edwin van der Sar, both player and coach put aside their differences. Van Basten announced four months later that Van Nistelrooy was returning to the Oranje.[70][71] On 8 September, Van Nistelrooy filled Huntelaar's spot, as previously requested, for the qualifier against Bulgaria, scoring in a 2–0 victory,[72] and scored the winning goal four days later in injury time of the Netherlands' win over Albania.

At Euro 2008, Van Nistelrooy scored for the Netherlands in their decisive 3–0 victory over Italy in the group stage, and scored the equaliser in their eventual 3–1 loss to Russia in the quarter-finals. On 4 August, he again announced his retirement from international competition.[73][74]

During the buildup to the 2010 World Cup Van Nistelrooy again made himself available, but was left out by the Netherlands' new coach Bert van Marwijk.[75] After being left out for the World Cup, Van Nistelrooy said he had no choice to face the fact that his international career is finished.[76]

After main striker Robin van Persie suffered an injury during a match with his club Arsenal, Van Marwijk gave Van Nistelrooy a chance to reclaim his position as the main striker of the Netherlands' national team. Van Nistelrooy was invited to two Netherlands' Group E qualification matches for Euro 2012 against San Marino and Finland.[77] He scored in the 5–0 victory against San Marino on 3 September 2010.[78]

He was again recalled to the squad in March 2011 for two Euro 2012 qualification games with Hungary, after injuries to strikers Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Arjen Robben and Theo Janssen.[79] In the away game on 25 March he appeared as a late substitute for Dirk Kuyt[80] while in the return game in Amsterdam four days later he came off the bench to score his 35th international goal.[81] adding it is "wonderful to be able to add something to this Oranje team", as he told Berend Scholten.[82]

Coaching career[edit]


In June 2013, Van Nistelrooy joined PSV as a coaching intern working with the under-17s.[83]


In March 2014 it was announced that Van Nistelrooy will be assisting Guus Hiddink when he takes over the national team after the World Cup.[84]

Personal life[edit]


Van Nistelrooy married his girlfriend, Leontien Slaats, in July 2004.[85] The couple had their first child, a girl named Moa Annette, in September 2006, and a son named Liam in March 2008.[86][87][88]

Charity work[edit]

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. Van Nistelrooy was officially appointed "FIFA for SOS Children's Villages" Ambassador in the Netherlands on 1 September 2001.[89]

On 17 November 2009, Van Nistelrooy and his wife hosted SOS at Real Madrid City. The purpose of the event was to help create a calendar which would be sold to benefit the organization.[90]

Other work[edit]

During the 2014 FIFA World Cup, van Nistelrooy worked as a studio analyst for ESPN.[91]


Van Nistelrooy (right) with Klaas-Jan Huntelaar in training prior to UEFA Euro 2008. Van Nistelrooy originally announced his retirement from international duty in January 2007, but made a temporary comeback for the tournament. He returned to international duty in March 2011 for a UEFA Euro 2012 qualification match against Hungary, in which he scored to help Holland win.
International goals[92]
Goal Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1 28 April 1999 Gelredome, Arnhem, Netherlands  Morocco 1–2 1–2 Friendly
2 25 April 2001 Philips Stadion, Eindhoven, Netherlands  Cyprus 4–0 4–0 2002 WCQ
3 2 June 2001 Lilleküla Stadium, Tallinn, Estonia  Estonia 2–2 2–4 2002 WCQ
4 2 June 2001 Lilleküla Stadium, Tallinn, Estonia  Estonia 2–4 2–4 2002 WCQ
5 15 August 2001 White Hart Lane, London, England  England 0–2 0–2 Friendly
6 5 September 2001 Philips Stadion, Eindhoven, Netherlands  Estonia 5–0 5–0 2002 WCQ
7 6 October 2001 Gelredome, Arnhem, Netherlands  Andorra 3–0 4–0 2002 WCQ
8 6 October 2001 Gelredome, Arnhem, Netherlands  Andorra 4–0 4–0 2002 WCQ
9 20 November 2002 Arena Auf Schalke, Gelsenkirchen, Germany  Germany 1–3 1–3 Friendly match
10 29 March 2003 De Kuip, Rotterdam, Netherlands  Czech Republic 1–0 1–1 2004 UEQ
11 2 April 2003 Sheriff Stadium, Tiraspol, Moldova  Moldova 1–1 1–2 2004 UEQ
12 19 November 2003 Amsterdam ArenA, Amsterdam, Netherlands  Scotland 3–0 6–0 2004 UEQ
13 19 November 2003 Amsterdam ArenA, Amsterdam, Netherlands  Scotland 4–0 6–0 2004 UEQ
14 19 November 2003 Amsterdam ArenA, Amsterdam, Netherlands  Scotland 6–0 6–0 2004 UEQ
15 15 June 2004 Estádio do Dragão, Porto, Portugal  Germany 1–1 1–1 UEFA Euro 2004
16 19 June 2004 Estádio Municipal de Aveiro, Aveiro, Portugal,  Czech Republic 2–0 2–3 UEFA Euro 2004
17 23 June 2004 Estádio Municipal de Braga, Braga, Portugal  Latvia 1–0 3–0 UEFA Euro 2004
18 23 June 2004 Estádio Municipal de Braga, Braga, Portugal  Latvia 2–0 3–0 UEFA Euro 2004
19 13 October 2004 Amsterdam ArenA, Amsterdam, Netherlands  Finland 2–1 3–1 2006 WCQ
20 13 October 2004 Amsterdam ArenA, Amsterdam, Netherlands  Finland 3–1 3–1 2006 WCQ
21 30 March 2005 Philips Stadion, Eindhoven, Netherlands  Armenia 2–0 2–0 2006 WCQ
22 8 June 2005 Helsinki Olympic Stadium, Helsinki, Finland  Finland 0–1 0–4 2006 WCQ
23 3 September 2005 Hanrapetakan Stadium, Yerevan, Armenia  Armenia 0–1 0–1 2006 WCQ
24 7 September 2005 Philips Stadion, Eindhoven, Netherlands  Andorra 3–0 4–0 2006 WCQ
25 7 September 2005 Philips Stadion, Eindhoven, Netherlands  Andorra 4–0 4–0 2006 WCQ
26 27 May 2006 De Kuip, Rotterdam, Netherlands  Cameroon 1–0 1–0 Friendly
27 4 June 2006 De Kuip, Rotterdam, Netherlands  Australia 1–0 1–1 Friendly
28 16 June 2006 Gottlieb-Daimler-Stadion, Stuttgart, Germany  Ivory Coast 2–0 2–1 2006 World Cup
29 8 September 2007 Amsterdam ArenA, Amsterdam, Netherlands  Bulgaria 2–0 2–0 2008 UEQ
30 12 September 2007 Qemal Stafa, Tirana, Albania  Albania 0–1 0–1 2008 UEQ
31 29 May 2008 Philips Stadion, Eindhoven, Netherlands  Denmark 1–0 1–1 Friendly
32 9 June 2008 Stade de Suisse, Wankdorf, Bern, Switzerland  Italy 1–0 3–0 UEFA Euro 2008
33 21 June 2008 St. Jakob-Park, Basel, Switzerland  Russia 1–1 1–3 UEFA Euro 2008
34 3 September 2010 Stadio Olimpico, Serravalle, San Marino  San Marino 0–5 0–5 2012 UEQ
35 29 March 2011 Amsterdam ArenA, Amsterdam, Netherlands  Hungary 3–2 5–3 2012 UEQ



PSV Eindhoven[93]
Manchester United[93]
Real Madrid[93]


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External links[edit]