Ruud van Nistelrooy reflected on his first year at United in an exclusive interview with the official club magazine back in 2002.
The Dutch hitman enjoyed great debut campaign on a personal level after the move from PSV Eindhoven was delayed by a knee injury but it was a rare trophyless term for the team as a whole.
You have been voted Player of the Year by your team-mates. Do personal awards mean more when they come from your colleagues?
It’s a nice feeling. To win the PFA awards as voted for by Premiership players and now an award voted for by my team-mates is really special. I feel very honoured that they appreciate my contribution. I’ve only been here a year so it’s a great sign that they have voted for me. It means a lot.
Who did you vote for?
I voted for Ole. I thought he had a great year and felt he deserved it. He’s been at this club for a long time and I think this was his best season so far. It’s also a bonus for me in that we play well together. Because of that either one of us can score or create a goal for the other.
Ole and you scored 61 goals between you. Can you see that partnership developing even further this season?
Well, you are never too old to learn! And if you see the professionalism of Ole and myself I’m sure we can do well again.
But at times you were played as a lone striker in a 4-5-1 system last season causing a lot of debate and controversy. How did you find that role?
It’s okay, I’m used to that. I played the role a lot of times in Holland. And the support I get from midfield is fantastic here so it doesn’t matter to me what system we play.
You must be delighted that the fans have taken to you so quickly...
Yeah. The relationship with the fans has been growing from the day I signed, maybe even before. Because of the year I didn’t come with the medical and all the publicity surrounding it , maybe United supporters feel like they’ve known me for a longer time. They certainly helped me. I got so many letters during my rehab from fans and United players encouraging me to get fit again and come to United. That contact meant so much to me and I wanted to pay it back when I