Rutgerus Johannes Martinus "Ruud" van Nistelrooy is a former Dutch footballer who played as a central striker notably for Manchester United and Real Madrid. He is currently serving as the manager at PSV Eindhoven youth team. He is widely regarded as one of Europe’s finest goal poachers and earned himself the nickname ‘Van Gol’.
Born in Oss, Netherlands on 1 July 1976 in South-central Netherlands, Nistelrooy developed a niche for sports at an early age excelling in tennis, football and swimming. But finally, he settled for football as his forte. However, his career really took off when he decided to join Eerste divisie club FC Den Bosch.
Nistelrooy’s international debut was a baptism with fire at an age of 22 in a high pressure friendly against Germany at Gelsenkirchen. He played the full ninety minutes in a 1-1 stalemate.
Rise to glory
Nistelrooy began his illustrious career for Netherlands. It was not always a cakewalk for him and many of the times he failed to replicate his club form for his country. But he still boasts an enviable and impressive tally of 35 goals in 70 matches.
His occasional tryst with injuries made him miss some major tournaments. However, he lit up the 2004 Euros with sensational football. He led Netherlands to the semis where they lost to Portugal.
He also scored in 2006 World Cup and 2008 Euros but Netherlands could not make it past the second round in both occasions.
In his first professional club, Nistelrooy was highly impressive and after four years of development at Den Bosch, he moved to Heerenveen.
He was highly influential in the forward role and thus when he made a move to PSV in 1998, he played as an out and out striker. The results were astounding as he raked up 75 goals in 95 appearances. He was the top scorer for two consecutive seasons but had to endure an injury ridden third season.
He then joined Manchester United. He created such magic that he is widely regarded as the best goalscorers of Premier League history. If his domestic record was good, his performance in Europe was staggering. His finishing skills and astute footballing brain made created an element of fear in rivals.
A transfer to Real Madrid made him one of the richest strikers of that time. His goal scoring in both La Liga and Champions League made him one of the best strikers of his time. Having lifted the Premier League during his time at Manchester United, ar Real, he won La Liga twice. However, it did little to change his Champions League luck. Despite being the fourth highest goalscorer in Champions League ever, he has never played a Champions League final.
He played the last few years of his career at Hamburg before retiring after a season with Malaga. His fitness were on a wane and it was the perfect time to retire on a high.
Nistelrooy has 95 Premier league goals in 150 matches while he has netted 46 times in 68 matches for Real Madrid. He also has a sensational 62 in 88 European games. It makes him one of the most prolific scorers in the the continental level.