Ruud van Nistelrooy is a retired Dutch professional footballer who played as a striker. He is considered one of the greatest strikers of his generation and one of the most prolific goalscorers in Champions League history.
Van Nistelrooy played for several top clubs including PSV Eindhoven, Manchester United, Real Madrid, and Hamburg SV. He also represented the Netherlands national team from 1998 to 2011.
In this article, we will explore van Nistelrooy’s biography, net worth, age, career highlights, records, family, achievements, and personal relationships. Read on to learn more about the life and accomplishments of this legendary Dutch striker.
Early Life and Career Beginnings
Ruud van Nistelrooy was born on 1 July 1976 in Oss, North Brabant, Netherlands. His father was a part-time painter and his mother a full-time housewife.
Van Nistelrooy began his football career with the youth academy of Dutch club Den Bosch in 1990 at age 14. He made his first-team debut in 1993 at age 17. Over the next three seasons, he developed into a promising striker and scored 12 goals in 91 appearances for Den Bosch.
In 1997, van Nistelrooy transferred to Heerenveen where he really started to establish himself as a top goalscorer. He scored 31 goals in 34 matches in his second season at the club. His brilliant form caught the attention of giants PSV Eindhoven who signed him in 1998.
Table of Ruud van Nistelrooy’s Early Career
Success at PSV Eindhoven
The next three seasons from 1998 to 2001 were the most successful of van Nistelrooy’s career at that point. Playing for PSV Eindhoven, he became the Dutch league’s top scorer in three consecutive seasons from 1998–99 to 2000–01.
In the 1998–99 season, he scored 31 goals in 34 league matches. The next season, he exceeded that with 35 goals in 23 matches.
In his final season, he scored 24 goals in 23 league appearances. Overall, across all competitions, he scored an incredible 109 goals in just 120 matches during his three seasons at PSV.
Some of his notable achievements at PSV include:
- Dutch Golden Boot winner: 1998–99, 1999–2000, 2000–01
- Dutch Footballer of the Year: 1999–2000
- back-to-back Dutch league titles: 1999–2000, 2000–01
- Top scorer of 1999–2000 UEFA Champions League with 10 goals
Van Nistelrooy’s goalscoring exploits made him one of the most feared strikers in Europe at the time. He seemed destined for even bigger things.
Move to Manchester United
In April 2000, English powerhouse Manchester United agreed a £19 million deal to sign van Nistelrooy. However, issues in his medical almost derailed the transfer. He went back to PSV and continued playing well, scoring 8 goals in 6 matches at the start of the 2000-01 season.
Manchester United finally signed him in the summer of 2001 for a British record fee of £19 million. The expectations on him were massive considering the prolonged transfer saga and the big fee.
Van Nistelrooy lived up to expectations and was an instant sensation at Old Trafford. In his first season 2001-02, he scored 23 Premier League goals in 32 matches, winning the Golden Boot. He also scored 10 Champions League goals, making it 33 goals in all competitions. United won the Premier League title that season.
The 2002-03 season was van Nistelrooy’s best goalscoring campaign. He scored 44 goals in 52 matches across all competitions, including 25 Premier League goals in 34 matches to win his second straight Golden Boot. He also scored 12 Champions League goals, helping United reach the quarterfinals.
Some of his key achievements at Manchester United include:
- Premier League Golden Boot: 2002, 2003
- PFA Players’ Player of the Year: 2002
- Manchester United Players’ Player of the Year: 2002, 2003
- Scored 150 goals in just 219 matches for United
- Won 1 Premier League title, 1 FA Cup, 1 Community Shield
By the time he left United in 2006, van Nistelrooy had firmly established himself as one of the club’s greatest ever strikers and a Premier League legend.
Table of Ruud van Nistelrooy’s Career at Manchester United
|Premier League, Community Shield
Later Career with Real Madrid, Hamburg, Málaga
After Manchester United, van Nistelrooy moved to Spanish giants Real Madrid from 2006 to 2008. He scored 64 goals in 96 matches and won back-to-back La Liga titles in 2007 and 2008.
In 2008, he transferred to Hamburg SV in the German Bundesliga where he spent three seasons. He scored 25 goals in 68 league matches for them.
His final club was La Liga side Malaga in 2011-12 where he scored 5 goals in 30 matches at age 35 before retiring in 2012.
Some highlights from his later career include:
- 2x La Liga winner with Real Madrid: 2006–07, 2007–08
- Top scorer of 2006–07 La Liga season with 25 goals for Real
- Hamburg SV Player of the Year: 2008–09
- Scored 64 goals in 96 matches for Real Madrid
Although van Nistelrooy’s most prolific seasons were earlier in his career, he continued scoring consistently later on for Real Madrid and Hamburg as well. He won league titles in three different countries during his illustrious club career.
International Career with Netherlands
Van Nistelrooy represented the Netherlands national team from 1998 to 2011. He scored 35 goals in 70 matches for his country.
He was a key part of the Netherlands squad that finished fourth in the 1998 FIFA World Cup under manager Guus Hiddink. At age 21, it was just van Nistelrooy’s first major tournament but he scored 3 goals.
His other major international tournaments were:
- 2000 Euros – top scorer with 5 goals as Netherlands reached semi-finals
- 2004 Euros – scored 3 goals as Netherlands crashed out in group stage
- 2006 World Cup – scored 1 goal in 4 matches
Unfortunately, injuries prevented van Nistelrooy from playing in two Euros (2008, 2012) and the 2002 World Cup, which was the peak of his career. But when available, he was a reliable scorer and talented striker for his country.
Net Worth, Endorsements, and Sponsorships
Thanks to his lucrative contracts and long club career at the top level, Ruud van Nistelrooy has built up a net worth estimated at £55 million as per reports in 2022.
During his playing career, some of his most notable endorsements and sponsor sponsorships included:
- Nike – long-term deal to wear Nike boots and merchandise
- McDonald’s – appeared in advertisements for 2010 World Cup
- Electronic Arts – featured on the cover of EA Sports’ FIFA video games
- Gazprom – sponsorship deal with Russian gas company in early 2000s
- Gatorade – featured in ads and promotions for the sports drink
Van Nistelrooy has earned millions not just from his salary as a player but also through his commercial endorsements with major brands globally. Even after retirement, he continues to earn through ambassador and consulting roles.
Age and Personal Life
Ruud van Nistelrooy was born on 1 July 1976, making him 46 years old as of 2022. He was born in Oss, Netherlands.
In 2004, he married his girlfriend Leontien Slaats with whom he has one daughter, Moa Annette van Nistelrooy born in 2006. The family resides primarily in the Netherlands.
Van Nistelrooy’s father died from cancer in 2004 shortly before his marriage. He has been actively involved in promoting cancer research and treatment programs.
The striker is multilingual and fluent in Dutch, German, English, and Spanish which reflected the leagues he played in.
Since retirement, he lives a private life with his family away from the spotlight. He participates in veteran matches and does ambassador work for former clubs like Manchester United.
Ruud van Nistelrooy enjoyed one of the most prolific goalscoring careers in recent football history. His playing peak came in the early 2000s when he was the undisputed top striker at PSV Eindhoven and Manchester United.
Though injuries hampered parts of his career, he still managed to score over 300 goals for club and country. Van Nistelrooy won league titles in three different countries and was a world-class performer in the Champions League.
While not the flashiest or most skilful player, he excelled due to his tactical intelligence, positioning, and elite finishing ability with both feet and head. He deserves his place among the all-time great Dutch footballers thanks to his consistency and phenomenal striking instincts.
Off the pitch, van Nistelrooy has led a private life and avoided controversy, focusing on his family and charitable endeavors. As of 2022, even a decade after retirement, he remains one of the most recognizable figures from his era of football in the 2000s. Van Nistelrooy’s goalscoring exploits have cemented his legacy as one of the deadliest strikers of all time.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Ruud van istelrooy’s current age?
Ruud van Nistelrooy is currently 46 years old. He was born on 1 July 1976 in Oss, Netherlands.
For which clubs did he play during his career?
Van Nistelrooy played for the following major clubs during his illustrious career:
- PSV Eindhoven (Netherlands)
- Manchester United (England)
- Real Madrid (Spain)
- Hamburg SV (Germany)
- Málaga CF (Spain)
How many goals did he score for the Netherlands national team?
Van Nistelrooy scored 35 goals in 70 appearances for the Dutch national team from 1998 to 2011.
Which was his most successful season in terms of goals scored?
The 2002-2003 season was the most prolific of van Nistelrooy’s club career. Playing for Manchester United, he scored 44 goals in 52 matches in all competitions.
What is van Nistelrooy’s net worth estimated to be?
According to reports, Ruud van Nistelrooy has a net worth of around £55 million as of 2022. His wealth comes from football salaries, endorsements, and investments.
Why did van Nistelrooy leave Manchester United in 2006?
It was reported that van Nistelrooy’s departure from Manchester United came after his falling out with head coach Sir Alex Ferguson. However, the exact reasons were never confirmed by the club or manager.
What is van Nistelrooy’s current role and involvement in football?
Since retirement in 2012, van Nistelrooy has taken up ambassadorial and consulting roles at former clubs like Manchester United. He participates in veteran charity matches as well.
Where does van Nistelrooy currently reside?
Van Nistelrooy lives with his family in his native country Netherlands away from public spotlight. He prefers to lead a private life since retiring as a player.