23/04/2012 18:00, Report by Gaby McNamee & Dan James
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Archives: Van Nistelrooy

with the fans too. Fans come out hoping to watch a great game and have fun...that’s what I want to give them.

You said at the end of the season that winning personal awards meant nothing if the team didn’t win anything, but it must be a compensation to know that everyone from fans to Premiership players and team-mates rate you?
I came to United to win trophies with the team and we won nothing so I can’t be satisfied with that. But yes, of course it’s a fantastic honour that so many different people voted for me. That means a lot to me and is great for my confidence. It’s a great reward for a year of hard work as well. These awards give me great motivation to go on from this point and try to do the same again.

A few observers reckoned you faded a little towards the end of the last season as your year out from the game finally took its toll. Do you agree?
If you’ve been out for a year, you want to know how long you can carry on for and I’m happy at the way it went. It wasn’t as if I had one or two months when I didn’t score, it was continuous over the whole season. I was completely fit. Of course at the end of the season you feel more tired, but I think that’s the case for all the players, not just me.

You were the last player off the pitch after Arsenal won the title at Old Trafford and you looked utterly dejected. How long did that feeling last?
It hurt a hell of a lot. It was decided in that game and there was a final realisation that you couldn’t do anything about it anymore. It’s the fact that it’s over that’s hard to take. After trying so hard all season to win the title, it felt like a slap in the face. It took me a while to get over that. It kept coming back to me over the next couple of weeks. However, now I am preparing for the new season and I know we have new chances.

The way you celebrate goals has been compared to ‘a kid who’s scored in a junior cup final’ and fans love to see your passion for the cause. Has that always been in you or has the hunger intensified since the injury?
I think it’s a combination of both. I’ve always been emotional, win or lose. But also the disappointment of missing out on joining Manchester United in 2000 is a factor. The medical went wrong and I had to fight back. At the time, I didn’t know if I would play again, let alone for Manchester United. I’ve had the chance to come back and that’s brilliant. After everything that has happened, I

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