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Rutgerus Johannes Martinus "Ruud" van Nistelrooij (commonly spelled as van Nistelrooy; born 1 July 1976) is a Dutchmarker footballer who plays as a striker for Spanish La Liga club Real Madrid. He is currently the second-highest goalscorer in Champions League history with 60 goals. He is a three-time Champions League top scorer, as well as a top scorer in three different European domestic leagues.

Club career

Early career

Born in Ossmarker, North Brabantmarker, Van Nistelrooy started his professional career in 1993 with Dutch second division side Den Bosch, where he was converted from a central defender to centre forward after playing part-time for Nooit Gedacht and Magriet. 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 next season, he won his second Eredivisie scoring title with 29 goals. According to a 2001 interview with The Telegraph, Manchester United coach Alex Ferguson said that his son Darren, who was at tryouts 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." Ferguson sent team representatives to PSV's next league game and signed Van Nistelrooy the next day.

Van Nistelrooy looked set to complete an £18.5 million transfer to Manchester United in the summer of 2000. A press conference had been called to confirm Van Nistelrooy's arrival, but instead this was used to announce that the transfer had been delayed over concerns about his fitness. Days later, he suffered ruptured cruciate knee ligaments during a training session and the deal was axed. When the transaction was completed in April 2001, United were forced to pay PSV an additional £500,000 for the player's services.

Manchester United

Van Nistelrooy signed a five-year contract after passing his medical. 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." During his first season, Van Nistelrooy scored 23 goals in 32 league games, ending the year on a league record eight-game consecutive scoring streak. The following season, he broke the record of the previous mark of seven he shared with Mark Stein, Alan Shearer and Thierry Henry. He also scored 10 Champions League goals, and was named the PFA Players' Player of the Year.Champions League goals in 10 games. He finished as the top Premier League scorer with 25 in 34 games, including three hat-tricks, and he ended the season on another eight-game scoring streak. He started the 2003–04 season by scoring twice in his first two league matches, which boosted his consecutive games record to 10. He scored his 100th goal for the club in a 4–3 victory over Everton on 7 February 2004. He scored two goals, one a penalty, in United's victory over Millwall in the 2004 FA Cup Final.

Van Nistelrooy missed most of the 2004–05 season due to injury, but nonetheless scored a Champions League-best eight goals. One of them was his thirtieth 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." Manchester United were eliminated by eventual finalists Milan in the knockout stage after going scoreless in both legs.

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. By the end of his fifth season with United, Van Nistelrooy had amassed 150 goals in fewer than 200 starts.

Van Nistelrooy was benched for the League Cup final against Wigan Athletic, fuelling speculation of a rift between him and coach 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.

On 9 May 2006, Setanta Sports 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." The article claimed that this was not a reference to Ronaldo's father (who had died earlier in the season), but to United's Portuguese assistant coach, Carlos Queiroz.

Van Nistelrooy signed with Spanish side Real Madrid on 28 July 2006, departing Manchester United after five seasons with a total of 150 goals in 220 appearances, as well as the club's all-time European scoring record with 38 goals.

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 €24 million.

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.

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. He underwent ankle surgery in March, 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. He finished the season with 20 goals in 32 appearances.

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. Van Nistelrooy travelled to the United Statesmarker 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. 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 Dani Parejo. 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 fifteen minutes of the game against Rosenborgmarker, substituting Kaka. 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 6 weeks. On October 27 Van Nistelrooy made his second comeback of the season coming on as a substitute for Raul in the 71st minute against Alcorcon in the Copa del Rey

International career

Van Nistelrooy has 64 caps and 33 goals for the Netherlands. His first tournament was Euro 2004, where he and the Czech Republic's Milan Baroš were the only players to score in all three group stage matches.

As the Dutch failed to qualify for the 2002 FIFA World Cup, Van Nistelrooy had to wait four years to play in his first and last World Cup. 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 Nistelrooy missed a penalty and Lima laughed at him 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. 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 benched for the Netherlands' final match, which saw them eliminated in the knockout stage by Portugal.

Van Basten left the striker off the squad for a friendly against the Republic of Ireland on 16 August 2006. Dirk Kuyt replaced Van Nistelrooy in their next match against Portugal in September. After Klaas-Jan Huntelaar was unavailable for UEFA 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 some disputes with coach Marco van Basten. 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. On 8 September, Van Nistelrooy filled Huntelaar's spot, as previously requested, for the qualifier against Bulgaria, scoring in a 2–0 victory, 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.

Personal life


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

Charity work

Van Nistelrooy and his wife are both heavily involved with the charity organization SOS Children's Villages. The organisation 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.

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



Club Season League Cup League Cup Europe Other Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Den Bosch 1993–94 2 0 2 0
1994–95 15 3 2 3 17 3
1995–96 21 2 21 2
1996–97 31 12 31 12
Total 69 17 2 3 71 20
Heerenveen 1997–98 31 13 5 3 36 16
Total 31 13 5 3 36 16
PSV Eindhoven 1998–99 34 31 5 1 7 6 46 38
1999–2000 23 29 2 0 8 3 33 32
2000–01 10 2 2 3 12 5
Total 67 62 9 4 15 9 91 75
Manchester United 2001–02 32 23 2 2 0 0 14 10 1 1 49 36
2002–03 34 25 3 4 4 1 11 14 0 0 52 44
2003–04 32 20 4 6 0 0 7 4 1 0 44 30
2004–05 17 6 3 2 0 0 7 8 0 0 27 16
2005–06 35 21 2 0 2 1 8 2 0 0 47 24
Total 150 95 14 14 6 2 47 38 2 1 219 150
Real Madrid 2006–07 37 25 3 2 7 6 47 33
2007–08 24 16 2 0 1 0 7 4 34 20
2008–09 6 4 0 0 2 3 4 3 12 10
2009–10 1 1 2 0 0 0 1 0 4 1
Total 68 46 7 2 3 3 19 13 97 64
Career total 385 233 37 27 9 5 81 60 512 324

National team

All-time national team performance
National Team Year Friendlies International

Total Goals per match
App Goals App Goals App Goals
Netherlands 1998 1 0 0 0 1 0
1999 8 1 0 0 8 1
2000 1 0 0 0 1 0
2001 2 1 5 6 7 7
2002 3 1 1 0 4 1
2003 2 0 6 5 8 5
2004 4 0 7 6 11 6
2005 1 0 8 5 9 5
2006 2 2 3 1 5 3
2007 1 0 4 2 5 2
2008 2 1 3 2 5 3
Total 27 6 37 26 64 33



PSV Eindhoven

Manchester United

Real Madrid



  1. Van Nistelrooy delighted after last year's delay - The Telegraph, 4/27/01. Retrieved on 11/14/08.
  2. Van Nistelrooy in melting pot - The Telegraph, 5/9/01. Retrieved on 11/10/08.
  3. Real's Van Nistelrooy out for season after knee injury - AFP, 11/13/08. Retrieved on 11/14/08.
  4. 2006 FIFA World Cup preliminaries: Netherlands vs Andorra
  5. - UEFA EURO 2008 - Fixtures & Results - Match Specific

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