Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Ruud van Nistelrooy on United and his departure.

Journalist Steven Kooijman wrote this article in the February 2011 issue of Voetbal Magazine.
In the article Ruud van Nistelrooy reflects on his five fantastic seasons at United, from 2001 till 2006. Here are some parts of the interview.

The quotes are mostly from Ruud van Nistelrooy.

Ruud tells he had an instant click with Sir Alex Ferguson. Sitting on the settee at Ruud’s flat, Fergie described him as his ideal centreforward. During this conversation, in 2000, Fergie told Ruud it would be his last season as manager.

‘Of course I wanted to go to United, I could see the team round me: Beckham, Keane, Scholes and Gigss in midfield, amazing. Up front Cole, Yorke and Solskjaer. And then that fantastic ground; Old Trafford. Things couldn’t be better.’

During his injury, before joining United, Fergie phoned Ruud a few times and visited him once. ‘That felt so warm. He said “Ruud don’t worry, next year you’ll play for us.”

In his first months at United Ruud becomes fascinated by Duncan Edwards. ‘The legend and the stories that were still told about his skill, really struck me. His greatness lives on, 40 years later. That he had to die that young, a thing like that can happen aswell. Ferguson used to talk a lot about him, how strong and complete he was. Fergie liked to talk about the club’s legends.’

‘I felt deadrelaxed in the dressingroom, which was like any other dressingroom; no stars, just footballers. The core was British. You had the Neville-brothers, Nicky Butt, Paul Scholes, Giggs; local lads. Becks, Keane, who had been therefore a hundred years, Denis Irwin.’

‘Carrington was the personification of the United family to me. Closed off from the press and the public. Everyone trains there, from the youth teams to the first team. After training we all ate together, including the youthtrainers and the greenkeepers. Everyone’s interested in each other. I loved that, it created such a bond. I felt completely free. It was like playing with some mates in the park.’

‘The amount of talent at Carrington was surreal. There are so many lads around from United’s youthsystem. Pique is now world champion and won countless trophies at Barca. Rossi’s now at Villarreal and Italian international. I was watching Match of theDay the other day; Ebanks-Blake at Wolves, Phil Bardsley and Kieran Richardson at Sunderland, Danny Simpson plays at Newcastle, the Da Silva twins, I’ve seen them play with the U17’s.
I still feel connected. Nowhere I experienced such a clubfeeling as at Manchester United, with Fergie as the big boss.’
‘United wants to develop, instead of buying everything in sight, like Real. That’s why I think the statement Frank de Boer made at Ajax (fielding a lot of youngsters) was great. They should keep him long term.’

About his departure.
‘It’s probably a good thing I left. It was the only way I’d have left United, cos I wanted to finish my career in Manchester.’
‘Of course my departure was mostly my own fault. I was stubborn and stayed stubborn.’

The built up to the departure; the Carling Cupfinal.
‘ I knew up front that players who had played in the Carling Cup the rest of the season would play in the final. That was fine by me. I had only played in the home leg of the semi.
Ferguson was supposed to bring me on as a sub, but he didn’t. He hadn’t really told me he would, but there were only five subs, including a goalie. With 4-0 on the scoreboard, I thought; right, let’s play for half hour, score and win the cup. Fergie would have wanted that himself aswell, right?!.
Everyone came on, even Vidic and Evra, lads who had only just joined the club, except me. I was really pissed off, the Carling Cup is another trophy and I wanted to be part of it. I’ve got the medal, but it doesn’t feel as if I won it.’
‘After that we didn’t get on anymore. I think he waited for me to apologize for swearing at him. And I waited for him to say; shite Ruud, I should have brought you on.’

Van Nistelrooy admits Ferguson was the least stubborn of the two. ‘Fergie tried it with small talk, but I wouldn’t give in, not an inch!’ I didn’t wanna talk about the weather, I thought: you can talk about the final, if not I’m not talking to you at all.’

The fight escalates.
‘I decided to leave. The mrs. wasn’t best pleased, she was eight months pregnant and we had just decorated the nipper’s room. She said: lighten up man, just talk to him.
But I couldn’t, I just couldn’t.’

After leaving Man. United.
The longer he’s away, the more he regrets the way he treated Sir Alex Ferguson.
‘I wanted to solve it, but didn’t know what to do. If I phoned he might not answer. Then the mrs. suggested to send a text first, to ask if I could call.
I did and he texted a time at which I could call him.’
‘When I called, Fergie answered with; hello, okay go ahead.
Straight away it was, come on then. Me: I want to apologize. Him: I appreciate it. I’m sure when we meet, everything will be okay.’
‘That he said that meant the world to me. I told him the five years had been amazing, with him aswell, just a shame things went the way they did.’

‘I always felt homesick to Old Trafford. To the fans, to the Ruud, Ruud, Ruud, to the players lounge, to the old pics on the wall, to the wooden floors. When I meet Ferguson again, and I really hope I do, then I’ll hug him.
Then it’s case closed.’