When it came to scoring goals, not many came close to the lethal finishing and clinical striking of Manchester United’s Ruud Van Nistelrooy. A forward with a knack for scoring goals, he is considered one of the best, if not the best finisher in United’s long history.
The Dutch striker was supposed to sign for United back in 2000. However, after concerns regarding his fitness, the Reds decided to postpone his transfer. A year later, United came back and decided to push through with their gamble.
And boy, did their gamble pay off.
The Dutch forward went on to make 219 appearances for the Old Trafford outfit in a span of five seasons, scoring an outstanding 150 goals along the way. In his first two years with the club, he was the Champions League top scorer, having scored 10 goals during the 2001-02 season, and 14 goals a year later.
Another of his achievements, perhaps one more satisfying for fans on a personal level, was his contribution in ending Arsenal’s “Invincibles” streak. On 24 October 2004, he scored in United’s 2-0 win vs the Gunners, ending the latter’s 49-game unbeaten run.
“Ruud Van Nistelrooy was brilliant,” former Manchester United captain and club icon Roy Keane recalled.
“Ruud was the best finisher, ever, but especially in one-on-one situations, just the keeper to beat. When Ruud was going through, one on one, I never doubted him.
“Some players would be going, ‘Hard or low? Or dink it over?’, but when Ruud was through there might as well have been no goalkeeper,” Keane added.
Van Nistelrooy is certainly one of the best strikers for United in recent history. Playing under the club’s colours, he has won the Premier League, the FA Cup, the League Cup, and the Community Shield.
“[Van Nistelrooy] was the kind of centre-forward who dominated the game,” Legendary former manager Sir Alex Ferguson said.
“You left them to do their work in the penalty box. He was a flawless finisher who scored some true poacher’s goals,” the Scotsman added.