Van Nistelrooy has lifted the lid on his relationship with Ronaldo at Manchester United and his first impression of the star’s talent.
Ruud van Nistelrooy has admitted he was in the wrong for clashing with Cristiano Ronaldo at Manchester United. He also revealed how the Portuguese’s “unbelievable talent” blew him away.
Ronaldo joined Van Nistelrooy at Old Trafford in 2003 as a teenager. The pair won the FA Cup and EFL Cup together for United and briefly became teammates at Real Madrid as well.
But their relationship hasn’t always been smooth sailing, which Van Nistelrooy has openly admitted. The Dutchman once infamously had a training ground row with Ronaldo, who had only recently lost his father.
Former teammate Louis Saha claimed the incident reduced Ronaldo to tears, while Rio Ferdinand revealed he once ‘smashed’ Van Nistelrooy over his treatment of CR7.
“Everything in the press is going on about that particular incident and also I commented on it, I’m happy to do that again because I know that I was wrong in that situation,” Van Nistelrooy told Ferdinand’s YouTube channel.
“I immediately walked into the dressing room and sat next to him and I apologised for my behaviour when I’d calmed down.
“That frustration is coming from somewhere. Now when you’re 44 you look back on things and you know that when things are going on around you in your private life sometimes it can make you frustrated.
“In that incident, it led to a discussion with Cristiano. But, of course, you need to realize and be big enough to acknowledge that.”
Run it back to 2003. Pre-season. Sporting Lisbon vs. Manchester United. The day Cristiano Ronaldo introduced himself to the Premier League's most dominant team and the game that convinced Sir Alex Ferguson to sign the tricky Portuguese winger before he left the stadium. 🔥🇵🇹 pic.twitter.com/2oMJfepKrd
— Football Tweet (@Football__Tweet) March 18, 2021
Despite the unfortunate incident, Van Nistelrooy held great respect for a young Ronaldo’s talents right away and wanted to help him develop.
“It was clear what we said in the dressing room,” he said on the future five-time Ballon d’Or winner.
“We were saying to each other ‘this kid is unbelievably talented but we’ve got to help him to become effective’.
“As a 17-year-old boy, he joined United and we played against him in Sporting in pre-season and I remember the manager asking a few of our players ‘what do you [think] of that kid?
“We need someone who can get one-on-ones with defenders, create new situations, to dribble’. I remember saying ‘unbelievable talent’.
“When he joined, that’s what I saw with him. Of course, at 17 you need two or three years to adapt and then… wow… what happened then, he was unbelievable.”