Ruud van Nistelrooy
Joined United: 01/07/2001
Debut: 12/08/2001 v Liverpool, Charity Shield
Honours: Premier League (2002/03); FA Cup (2003/04); League Cup (2005/06); Community Shield (2003)
Left United: 28/07/2006
Other clubs: Den Bosch, Heerenveen, PSV, Real Madrid, Hamburg
It’s anyone’s guess how many goals Ruud van Nistelrooy would have ended up with had he stayed at Manchester United – or even if he’d joined earlier.
The Dutchman was a proven goalscorer when he arrived at Old Trafford from PSV as a 24-year-old in 2001, and Sir Alex had already waited a year to sign the striker while he recovered from a cruciate knee ligament injury.
He was still only 30 when he left for Real Madrid in the summer of 2006, having plundered an incredible 150 goals in 219 appearances for the Reds and picking up a league winners’ medal in 2002/03.
Spanish fans soon discovered Ruud’s prowess as he hit 53 goals in his first two seasons to help Real to back-to-back titles. But injuries blighted the latter stages of his spell at the Bernabeu and he joined Hamburg in January 2010.
Van Nistelrooy scored seven goals in his only full season with the German outfit, before returning to Spain on a free transfer to Malaga last summer.
Despite a difficult campaign in which he netted only five goals, he helped Malaga qualify for the Champions League for the first time in their history, before retiring at the age of 35.