March 7th 2000 – Injury

Van Nistelrooy sustained an injury in a friendly match with Danish side Silkeborg, tearing the medial ligament in his right knee and he had his leg placed in a cast.

April 9th 2000 – No to Rangers

Ruud turns down a move to Rangers after the Scottish club put in a £15m bid for him.

“I called his agent because he comes from the same town in Holland where I was brought up,” said Rangers boss Dick Advocaat. “But he told me that there`s no way Ruud will come to Scotland.”

April 19th 2000 – Ruud wants United move

“I am very happy with their interest. Manchester is a great team and I’d be very happy to play there. I said a few months ago that when I go I want to play in the Premiership, that’s not a secret. Until now I was not in a position to make a choice, it is hard because you can choose only from clubs that want you. I will see what happens. Jaap Stam told me a lot of things about United. It’s good to have an impression of teams, because it will be easier to make a choice.”

April 27th 2000 – Deal’s off

“Manchester United is very disappointed that the transfer of Ruud van Nistelrooy from PSV Eindhoven cannot proceed at the present time. Further tests were necessary for Manchester United to proceed with the transfer. The discussions that have been held between all parties failed to reach an agreement as to the extent of these tests and, as a result of these differences in opinion, we cannot proceed at the present time. Manchester United wish Ruud every success with his rehabilitation programme and will continue to monitor the situation very closely in order to achieve our desire to make him a Manchester United player.”

April 28th 2000 – Fergie’s sympathy

“It’s a terrible blow for the lad. We are not sure of the full extent but we hope it’s not too serious. What started a bright week has turned into a nightmare. We hope that it has not ruined his chances for the European Championships and we send our best wishes.”

It is confirmed later that day that Ruud will have an operation which will keep him out for 8 months.

July 4th 2000 – Ruud reflects on lost dream

“It was a dream come true – I signed for Manchester United,” he said. “I’ve been to Old Trafford and seen everything. I was with Ferguson in the dressing room half an hour before the game against Chelsea. I shook hands with the guys – Yorke, Beckham, Cole, Stam, Giggs, Keane. ‘Nice of you to come’, they said. And ‘good luck’. Now I know what I am missing and, of course, I still have that dream. Just like dreaming of a World Cup. But those dreams don`t fit any more into the situation I am faced with. My time will come, but I have to make sure that I will actually get that time. Alex Ferguson has been here, at my home. All by himself, just to visit me. I found that impressive. He didn`t have to do that. Manchester is a warm club. Absolutely. But I`ve closed that chapter now. There is no transfer, nothing.”

August 23rd 2000 – United invite PSV striker to train at the club

“United’s chief executive Peter Kenyon has apologised to us on behalf of United,” revealed PSV president Harry van Raay. “I said to him, ‘How would you like it if I invited David Beckham to train with PSV? They have now agreed that any further contact concerning Ruud will be done at board level. We have agreed with Ruud if he wants to go to the Canary Islands to continue his recovery he can. In fact, he can go where he wants with his physiotherapists, but he cannot go to Manchester.”

January 25th 2001 – Ruud still wants United

“When I am physically fit we will see what happens. I have followed United closely this season and I have been looking at their results and watching highlights. My first priority is to come back to the top-level, then we will see what happens. I have had no personal contact with United, in the beginning when I was getting over my injury there was, but after that there has been none.”

April 23rd 2001 – Ruud joins United

“I only wanted to play for United, although Real Madrid came in for me. Manchester United were always on my mind first. Finally the deal is done – one year after. It is incredible a club like Manchester United can wait for a player for so long. It gives me such a warm feeling. This is a dream come true. One year ago my life was going down. Now it’s going up. This Friday, I will go to Manchester and meet the fans. I am confident we can build something beautiful at United.”

October 1st 2001 – United come from 3-0 down to beat Spurs 5-3

“Nobody could believe what was happening. We all thought the manager would be screaming after what had happened, but he was quite calm. He just talked about what had gone wrong, and what we needed to do to put it right. And one of the great qualities of this team is that we never know when we are beaten. Every game I’ve played this season has been an absolute thriller. But I have never played in a game like this before. From what I have seen of the Premiership there is never a dull moment and it was just fantastic to be involved in this match. We knew we had to fight for every moment and that’s what we did. We went forward and scored five – it was just amazing.”

April 14th 2002 – Ruud voted Player of the Year

“This is a very proud moment for me. To win this award in my first season in the English Premier League is beyond my wildest dreams.”

May 19th 2002 – Ruud angry at winning nothing

“This is not what I wanted. I came to United to win trophies and we have won nothing. We have missed out on winning the FA Cup, we failed to win the Champions League and we were beaten by Arsenal in the Premiership. I find it disappointing. Yes, I have enjoyed my moments and I scored some good goals, but that is all. There is no crown on my first season with United. I am a winner and I am chasing much more. I want to win the championship, I want to win the Champions League and an FA Cup. It is frustrating to see others parading their trophies. This season has given me the confirmation of my own quality and class. I have the assurance that I belong at top level. England is one of the most fantastic countries to play football in. At Old Trafford I sense how much the United fans love the club. They give me more support than I could have imagined. We lost 3-0 against Chelsea at home and we lost the title to Arsenal, but they were singing for us, thanked us and applauded us. The fans at United rate me in a special category of top players at the club. I am down in the history books of United after only one season.'”

December 7th 2002 – Keown shoves Ruud in the face

“I fear FA action against Martin,” admitted Wenger. “I’ve not seen a replay of the incident but Martin told me this morning that he’s sorry. He has apologised as he said it was a bad reaction. If he is charged, he is charged and we will defend him. But he has shown a big attitude in saying that he’s sorry.”

Keown is later charged by the FA.

March 22nd 2003 – Hattrick vs Fulham

United went top of the league for the first time in a year.

April 5th 2003 – Happy Ruud

“I have a long contract and am very happy at Manchester United. It is the best club in the world and it has never crossed my mind to leave, although in professional football you can never say that anything is impossible. I know for sure that for now I am only concentrating on playing for Manchester United and to win everything I can.”

May 6th 2003 – Goal target set

“I can see myself staying here for the rest of my career. I want to win everything possible and make history with United. And what I really want is to get at least 150 goals – or more. For a foreign player to score that many times for Manchester United would be a truly remarkable achievement.”

September 21st 2003 – Arsenal penalty miss

Ruud missed a last minute penalty against Arsenal in a 0-0 draw at Old Trafford. Several Arsenal players then jumped on him and shoved him off the pitch.

“There are no excuses. We were guilty of stupid behaviour,” said chairman Peter Hill-Wood. “The players concerned were rather silly when you would hope they would show more intelligence. What makes matters worse is the fact it was senior players who were involved, experienced professionals who have played more than enough games to know not to react like that. I have said before that our disciplinary record is not good and it does concern me.”

December 18th 2003 – Ruud learns to love United

“My current contract comes to an end on my 30th birthday, July 1 2006. I am happy to sign a new contract though. I will never, ever play for another English club. Once you have played for United, the rest don’t count anymore. All I want to do is spend as much time of my career at United as possible before I eventually return home and bring the curtain down on my career at PSV. I am not just here to pull a shirt on, I am here because I want to be part of this great club even when I have eventually walked away. I have never just wanted to be here, score goals and look at my bank account. I wanted to have a warm feeling for the club. If you want to become part of the history then you have to embrace history from the past. To be a legend, to be part of history, you must know about the past and to achieve success you must learn to love the club you’re with.”

February 2nd 2004 – Ruud signs extension

“We all wanted the manager to stay for a longer period and were delighted when he agreed a new deal. After he did that there was no way I wouldn’t have agreed my own deal with the club.”

March 28th 2004 – Copying Cantona

“I have my own philosophy on how I will one day retire and it means I will walk away from football completely. Becoming a manager is not an option for me. I will do it exactly like Eric Cantona when he was at United. It will be bang, wallop and I’ll be gone. I want to do it when I am at the peak of my career. Playing blistering football one moment , the next gone forever. I am not a player who is ready to go to other clubs and play at a lower level. I have become used to this fantastic club, so that would be impossible. That is not my style. Either I am super-motivated to play at the top or I refuse to play. There is no in-between. I am really hungry to be a success at United, but at times it takes everything out of me. The big stars at this club have about seven years at the top and that’s what I am aiming for.”

May 26th 2004 – Ruud wants United for life

“I’m now sentenced for life with United – but that is not a punishment. The manager is building a new team and I trust him. I don’t need to go to Spain or another country. I had a long talk with Sir Alex Ferguson where he explained his future plans. When I signed my new contract recently, I didn’t sign for the money. I will finish my career in Manchester. I used to think that after my time with Manchester United I’d have a couple more years back home in Holland with PSV again. But I don’t think like that anymore.”

June 20th 2004 – Ruud wants Rooney

“He’s a phenomenal talent and the prospect of him pulling on a United shirt is frightening. I don’t know many clubs that wouldn’t want him in their side as he’s an incredible player. And, if he does become available, Manchester United should do everything in their power to sign him. It certainly excites me to think he could be playing at United next season.”

October 24th 2004 – Ruud gets Arsenal revenge

Ruud scores a penalty against Arsenal to help end their 49 game unbeaten run.

October 28th 2004 – Cole threatens to sue Ruud

“It’s only because Ashley is the nicest guy in football, a real gentleman, that he probably wouldn’t want to pursue anything through the courts,” said Cole’s agent Jonathan Barnett. “But then again, I am his agent. We are looking at potential legal action, even criminal action for assault.”

February 17th 2005 – Sir Bobby gave Ruud goosebumps

“I feel at home in a place with such strong traditions. The moment I signed my five-year contract at Manchester United, the chairman at the time, Martin Edwards, took me to the boardroom. I shook hands with all of them, Sir Bobby Charlton last of all. When he said: ‘Good luck’, I got goose bumps all over my body. I drive down the A56 straight to Old Trafford. Between two church towers in the distance, I can already see the two biggest stands. When I close my eyes, I can recall that mental picture, no matter where I am. I feel at home in a place with such strong traditions. I don’t see why I shouldn’t spend the rest of my playing days here.”

February 24th 2005 – Rossi grateful for Ruud input

“When we have training at Carrington, I see all the team. But I don’t hide the fact that I talk frequently with van Nistelrooy. He always knows what I did in my matches – evidently he sees our games on MUTV and he gives me a lot of suggestions. He is a really good guy and we play in the same role. It’s easy to understand each other.”

May 24th 2005 – Ruud feels responsible

“Before my injury, scoring lots of goals seemed completely normal to me. But since I’ve come back I’ve realised it wasn’t normal. Scoring a load of goals is okay, it is routine for some strikers. But scoring goals absolutely all the time, as I did last season, is something super-extreme. It has not been my season or United’s. We just scored too few goals and, of course, I am responsible for that.”

October 6th 2005 – Staying until 2008

“I’m not interested in a transfer, not this year, and also not during my contract till 2008. And I hope I will play in Manchester after that.”

November 4th 2005 – Ruud backs Roy after Boro rant

“It is good to have people who say what they feel because they care about the club. When criticism is there you can be angry about it or think about it and whether it is true or not. Then you take something from it and use it. This is the most difficult time I can remember at the club. We are not playing well. When I joined the club I used to get four or five chances in every game. There used to be a constant stream of service. Our attacking play used to be great and I enjoyed it. Now it is different. The question is, can those days come back? It’s what we all want.”

November 27th 2005 – Ruud may replace Roy as captain

“As for the captaincy, I just do it. I feel a responsibility in every game I play, with or without the armband. But every time I am captain is a proud moment for me. The manager hasn’t decided what happens long term and I don’t think about whether I would like it permanently because the gaffer will decide.”

January 7th 2006 – Ruud and Ronaldo fight

Van Nistelrooy and Cristiano Ronaldo had to be pulled off each other in training after Ruud told Ronaldo to go and run to his dad after an argument. Suggestions were that Ruud was referring to Carlos Queiroz but the comments were pretty insensitive given that Ronaldo’s father had just past away.

February 25th 2006 – Ruud staying

”I want to be loyal and repay to United everything they have given me. The heart says that my place is here and there are still objectives I wish to achieve and believe in. I think I have improved a lot since I’ve been here.”

February 26th 2006 – Ruud dropped for the Carling Cup final

“I think Louis deserved to play,” Ferguson said. “He had scored five goals in the previous games and, since he’s been fit, I think he’s scored 10 in 13 games. I think there’s a danger you can sometimes overlook it and not give him the credit, but today he deserved to play in the final. Ruud seemed to be okay in the dressing room and okay with the players. He will be disappointed, you have to be disappointed. I have had that disappointment myself, being dropped in a cup final, at 10 past two, when you are the top goalscorer. It happens and it’s a horrible life that way. Finals are terrible to pull players out and to only have five substitutes, I think it’s wrong.”

February 28th 2006 – No hard feelings

“The manager told me before the game that I wasn’t playing. I was very disappointed but I could understand why he wanted to play Louis because he has been playing very well in the competition this season. You have to accept the decision as a professional player. There is no problem between me and the manager. I cheered the first two goals with everyone else on the bench and I was happy for the team. I’ve heard suggestions I was acting. Well, if I was, then I’m the best actor in Holland.”

March 20th 2006 – No complaints from Ruud

“Of course,” Ferguson replied when asked whether van Nistelrooy has a long-term future at Old Trafford. “He’s a member of our squad, no question. He’s on a long contract and we’re very happy with that situation. He has been patient and he’s never complained.”

April 3rd 2006 – Ruud makes it 150 against Bolton

“150 goals, it’s a great feeling. It’s a proud feeling to play for United. I signed here five years ago and, to score 150, is more than I could have ever have dreamt of. That’s why I’m grateful to the club and to the players also. It’s great that my really hard work has paid off in that sense.”

May 7th 2006 – Ruud storms out

Ruud leaves Old Trafford before kick-off on the final game of the season. After taking a dreadful penalty against Boro in a 0-0 draw United needed to beat Charlton to finish 2nd.

“[As for van Nistelrooy], there have been a couple of issues during the week which concerned me in terms of the spirit at the club,” said Ferguson. “It was such an important day but I felt Ruud should be left out. It’s straightforward and all I need to say, at the moment. I’ll be discussing it with the club directors tomorrow and Tuesday and that’s it.”

May 9th 2006 – Ruud banned from Roy’s testimonial

“For me it’s painful. I wanted to respect Roy. I wasn’t allowed to really so that is painful, that is the most painful thing.”

May 11th 2006 – Robson reminds Ruud of his place

“Sir Alex always says that there is no one man bigger than Manchester United, and that is the case,” said Bryan Robson. “You don’t know what has actually gone on, but if the boss feels that Ruud van Nistelrooy is not playing to the standards he was at when he was playing really well and United were winning championships, then he will look to replace him and let Ruud go.”

May 14th 2006 – Sometimes Ruud goes too far

“The departure of Roy Keane had a massive impact on Ruud,” Wim van Hanegem. “In the dressing room Ruud openly sided with Keane when Ferguson decided to separate the player from the club. Because of Ruud’s passion and determination he would not keep his mouth shut. Ruud can go far, sometimes too far and that has worked against him at United.”

July 14th 2006 – Ruud wants to leave

“There may be some interest from Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. I am waiting for David Gill to fill me in, but Ruud has asked to leave.”

July 28th 2006 – Ruud signs for Real

“This move means everything to me. It’s a great honour to stand here in the Bernabeu and it is a dream come true. Real Madrid is a great club; it’s got history, the greatest players ever have played here, so it’s a great honour on my side. I am very very happy, thank you all.

Van Nistelrooy also revealed he was sad to leave United and admitted his time at Old Trafford started to turn sour after he was left out of the starting line-up for February’s Carling Cup final clash with Wigan by Sir Alex Ferguson.

“When we played the final in the `copa’ (Carling Cup), that’s when I started to feel unhappy. My relationship with Ferguson had ended which was very painful. He did a lot for me, waiting for me while I was injured then giving me the chance to play and giving me confidence. But what happened, happened. A good relationship ended. It was very disappointing for me.”

August 3rd 2006 – Fergie explains Ruud exit

“It makes it difficult for a manager because every time you come to pick a team for a major game there are two or three players you are hesitant about telling they are out of the team either because they are great players, they have been great players in the past or you have a certain relationship with them. All you can do is hope they will agree with the reasoning behind your decision. Of course, sometimes a player doesn’t agree. I am happy with that. But it what happens after that, how they adapt to it is different with every player. Ruud was different in that way. That is exactly what happened.”

September 6th 2006 – Ruud wants Real retirement

“The club is fantastic. The people are wonderful and for me that is fundamental. The atmosphere in training is perfect and it is wonderful to be here. I want to retire here. I won four trophies with United, but I want more and Madrid has made me believe.”

October 10th 2006 – Ruud has respect for Fergie

“United was a fantastic time in my life, not only football but we met some wonderful people. I turned down the opportunity twice to come here during my United days but this time I could not say no. The history of the club is similar to United. You play at Old Trafford for the first time wearing a United shirt and it is unbelievable. Now I have the same feeling with Madrid.”

He had seemed to hold a grudge against his old boss, particularly after missing out on the 4-0 Carling Cup final win against Wigan Athletic, but he now seems more philosophical about the whole affair, and especially Ferguson.

“I owe him a lot and respect him a lot. What happened wasn’t so big not to talk to him. I said my thing and we just have to move on. Many great players have left United and other clubs. You move to another stage in your career but the memories remain from five fantastic years.”

December 24th 2006 – Ruud on Fergie fall out

“It started at the Carling Cup final, after an hour we were 4-0 ahead. I could not wait to get on as a substitute, to play half an hour and maybe score a goal and then go and lift the cup. First Kieran Richardson was put on. After that Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra, and Evra had only been at the club a few weeks. I exploded and started swearing at Ferguson. That was the killing moment. We never made up after that. The relationship fell apart. I do consider it kind of tragic. After all, Ferguson was the man who was there for me during my serious knee injury at PSV Eindhoven and even came to my sick bed.”

March 1st 2009 – Ruud wants to see Fergie

“I’m so looking forward to seeing him again. I want to talk and make up, clear the air between us. After all this time I can’t believe or understand what it was really all about. Why did it have to be such a big thing? I think we were both to blame. It just exploded between us. Because we had such a smashing relationship, I just though, ‘What on earth are you doing to me?’ I was so upset. As a professional player you never get so attached to our club or manager that a clash will hurt you that much. But in this case it did. It got very personal.”

January 23rd 2010 – Ruud joins Hamburg

“Saying goodbye to Real Madrid is very difficult. I don’t know if I’m going to hold the tears at the Bernabeu, because the affection that the fans have always given me has been incredible, spectacular. I’m going to find it hard not to cry. It has been one of the most difficult decisions of my career.”

January 21st 2011 – Ruud sorry for Fergie fall out

“I told him: ‘Those five years at Manchester United were fantastic, and working with you, and it’s really unfortunate what happened.’ I’m really glad it’s finished now. I had been thinking about it for a while and talking it through with my wife,” he said. “Two or three times every year I would think to myself what a shame it was that it had ended like it did with Ferguson. I wanted to do something about it. My wife suggested I sent Ferguson a text to see if he was willing to talk and when I sent him a message asking if I could ring him he replied to say: ‘OK, call me at this date and time.’ I rang him and he answered and said: ‘OK, fine, go ahead.’ I said I wanted to apologise for what had happened and he replied: ‘Fine, I appreciate that, when we meet again it will be OK.’ That was great to know.”

January 25th 2011 – Hamburg block Ruud’s Real return

“A contract extension with Hamburg can now be ruled out,” Ruud’s agent Rodger Linse said. “He cannot understand it (why Hamburg did not let him go) and he has got a problem with it. It is very, very painful. It is sad because Hamburg have no idea what they are doing to Ruud with this decision.”

June 2nd 2011 – Ruud joins Malaga

“Throughout my career I have been with many clubs and have shared a dressing room with world-class players. I feel very proud and happy to be here.”

May 14th 2012 – Ruud retires

“Yesterday was my final game as a professional footballer. I wanted to play in the Champions League, but it is the moment to leave. I have arrived at my physical limit and I can’t play at the maximum level. I couldn’t have had a better send-off than this. I feel happy that I am the one taking this decision.”