Ruud van Nistelrooy recalls 'personal' rivalry with Arsenal
Manchester United legend Ruud van Nistelrooy recalls intense ‘personal’ rivalry with Arsenal during the Battle of Old Trafford in 2003… but insists he holds no grudges towards Martin Keown and says he was more fired up by trying to beat Thierry Henry
- Ruud van Nistelrooy has recalled his intense ‘personal’ rivalry with Arsenal
- The Man United striker was in the thick of the action at Old Trafford in 2003
- The Dutchman clashed with Patrick Viera before missing a late penalty
- The forward was then taunted by Arsenal defender Martin Keown
- He insisted he holds no grudges and had a greater rivalry with Thierry Henry
Ruud van Nistelrooy says Manchester United’s rivalry with Arsenal became ‘personal’ during the infamous ‘Battle of Old Trafford’ in 2003.
The striker was involved in all the drama as he missed a late penalty to win the game after a clash with Patrick Viera, which saw the Gunners captain sent off.
Viera was given his marching orders for kicking out at Van Nistelrooy but Arsenal’s players were furious with the decision and the United striker.
Man United legend Ruud van Nistelrooy has recalled his intense ‘personal’ rivalry with Arsenal
The former striker was in the thick of the drama during the Battle of Old Trafford in 2003
The Gunners were even more incensed when the home side were awarded a penalty in the closing stages following a foul from Martin Keown on Diego Forlan.
Van Nistelrooy stepped up to take the spot-kick but his effort came crashing off the bar and back into play, with the game finishing 0-0 as a result.
‘That afternoon ignited sort of the… that was more personal towards me I recall,’ the Dutchman told the official UTD Podcast.
The Dutchman missed a late penalty to win the game as his effort crashed off the crossbar
Earlier in the game, Patrick Viera had been sent off after kicking out at the forward
‘That day and that afternoon, with the penalty miss and the red card and after the game incidents. It made it all go ballistic a little bit.’
Following his miss, the striker was taunted by Keown – who jumped up behind him at the full-time whistle.
Van Nistelrooy insisted he doesn’t hold any grudges towards the former Arsenal man and described him as one of the nicest men away from the football pitch.
‘It was a great image of him flying above me but the thing is that he is actually the nicest man you’ll meet outside a football pitch,’ the former striker insisted.
Van Nistelrooy was taunted by Arsenal defender Martin Kewon after missing his spot-kick
‘When things gets fired up and pressure is on, you’re capable of doing things that don’t look the best when you look back on it. It was the same for me, for him and for everybody that played I guess.’
The 44-year-old also said he was more motivated by his rivalry with Arsenal striker Thierry Henry. The two frontmen regularly competed for the Premier League’s Golden Boot award, which Van Nistelrooy won in the 2002-2003 season.
‘I just wanted to be the top scorer in the league and of course it was… of course, Thierry was always there, high in the goalscoring in the league,’ he said.
‘I checked if he scored and how things were going, yes I did, definitely. That rivalry pushes you to perform.’
The 44-year-old said he was more motivated by his goalscoring rivalry with Thierry Henry
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