What we learn from The Overlap with Ruud van Nistelrooy

Friday 24 March 2023 09:08

Manchester United hero Ruud van Nistelrooy is the latest guest in Gary Neville's The Overlap series, answering 25 questions in a tease of a bigger interview that will be released next week.

The legendary ex-Red is asked that specific number of questions because he scored 25 goals during the 2002/03 season, when he won the Premier League’s Golden Boot award.

In total, van Nistelrooy netted 150 times throughout five popular seasons at United and you can watch every single one of his finishes in the video below – trust us, you won’t regret it.
All The Goals: Ruud van Nistelrooy Video

All The Goals: Ruud van Nistelrooy

All The Goals | Watch Ruud van Nistelrooy's 150 United finishes to remind yourself of his greatness...

Neville asks a series of wide-ranging questions to learn more about his former team-mates, but there are naturally a large number that extract answers of a Red persuasion.

Ruud reveals the favourite goal he has ever scored is the individual effort against Fulham at Old Trafford, and also heaps praise on Sir Alex Ferguson when asked to name his best manager.

“Sir Alex,” answers Ruud. “Because I had him for a long time, for five years, he is the manager I played under for the longest. His legacy really, I was part of that for five years and looking back on it, that five years, the way he managed the team, the players, the club, that for me is the best.”

Van Nistelrooy names paella as his favourite food, inspired by his time with Real Madrid, but he amusingly remembers an unusual meal that he used to eat at United - a chocolate muffin with custard!

"I loved it," laughs Ruud. "I had loads of that custard on it, I used to love it. But there was also a white sponge cake with custard and that was also very nice. I had this big bowl!”

The striker reveals he once watched his favourite band Coldplay at Bolton Wanderers' stadium with team-mate Edwin van der Sar, before detailing his pre-match ritual at United. 

“I was always in the treatment room, I was changed quickly, and I was just there relaxing on the massage beds with the physios, reading the match programme,” says Ruud. “Most of the players were in the lounges waiting and then changing. I was already changed. 

“It happened sometimes when the gaffer called me into his office and I was already changed, and he told me I was not in the squad. I put on the suit again! I was always getting changed and thinking I'm playing today. I needed to have that, even though I didn't know it. Another Dutch confident guy!”


Sir Alex is the most famous name in his contact list and, when asked to name the best defender he played against, the goalscorer points to a formidable backline we faced in the Champions League. 

“I always say when we played Milan away in the last 16, it was Cafu, Nesta, Jaap [Stam] and Maldini. That was the back four with Gattuso in front. Okay, that was too much, that was too much. 

“I would say when I played Jaap in that game, I know playing with him for the national team and United, but actually playing against him, that was a beast. Quick, also on the turn because that's when you want to beat these guys, the determination, the aggressiveness as well. It's a lot.”
It's safe to say Ruud did not enjoy playing against his compatriot Jaap.

Ruud chooses Cristiano Ronaldo as the penalty taker if his life depended on the outcome and, to conclude, he touches on his famous miss against Arsenal that promoted ugly scenes at the height of our famous rivalry.

“I was calm because I missed, I was upset, but then the year after was nice.”

Visit The Overlap’s YouTube channel to watch Ruud’s quickfire questions.

Hear from another Dutch legend: