Red Icons: Ruud Van Nistelrooy; one of Manchester United’s greatest ever strikers

Ruud Van Nistelrooy is regarded as one of Manchester United’s greatest ever strikers. The Dutchman spent five years at Old Trafford wearing the number 10 shirt and becoming a fan favourite. He was indeed one of the first names on the team sheet and Fergie’s go-to man when United needed a goal or two.

The former Dutch international joined United in 2001 for £19 million from PSV Eindhoven. However, a year earlier, Van Nistelrooy looked set to join United for £18.5 million. Unfortunately for both United and Van Nistelrooy, the striker experienced problems with his knee so due to concerns, United postponed his unveiling. Additionally, the striker then ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament in a training session with PSV. Upon hearing this news, United then cancelled the transfer altogether. The following season when Van Nistelrooy was back to fitness, United came back in and got the deal done to bring the Dutchman to Old Trafford.

Ruud Van Nistelrooy was a pure goal scorer, one of the greatest ever finishers to grace the Old Trafford turf. He has had many critics claiming he was not a great all-round footballer however, he was much better at producing game-winning moments that these all-round quality footballers were. He was not a flat track bully either, he also scored big goals against big teams. He is the fourth highest goalscorer in Champions League history behind Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Raul with 56 goals. The striker’s qualities consisted of pace, power, intelligent movement and his finishing ability.

The player is, without doubt, a Manchester United legend. He has scored 150 goals for United whilst playing 219 matches for the club. His prolific goal scoring has placed him right up there with whatever United had to offer. He scored against Liverpool in a 2-1 win in the Charity Shield on his debut to announce himself to United fans. He also scored two goals in a 3-2 win against Fulham to make his Premier League debut. After recovering from a ruptured ACL injury, the Dutchman showed no signs of slowing down with 23 goals in the Premier League in his first season.

In his second season, he ended up winning the Golden Boot with 25 goals in the Premier League. In 2003 he won the Premier League player of the season. In addition, in the same season, he scored 12 goals in the Champions League and was named as the best striker in Europe by UEFA.

In the 2003/2004 season, he scored in the first two games of the season. This lead to him creating a record of being the only player to score in ten consecutive Premier League games. However, this was broken by Jamie Vardy in 2015.

Van Nistelrooy joined United in a period where Sir Alex Ferguson was trying to build another dynasty after winning the treble. He ended his United career with winning one Premier League, an FA Cup, a League Cup and Community Shield. These honours come amongst many individual awards. Overall, Ruud Van Nistelrooy will be a player whose memory will live long in the minds of United fans.

Written by Shane Purcell

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