There was that memorable FA Cup third-round tie away to Aston Villa in January 2002, when he came off the bench to turn the game on its head. I leapt around the living room, just like the United fans who came spilling out of the North Stand and on to the pitch.
There were times he made me cry. That missed penalty against Arsenal in September 2003 would haunt us for months, as the Gunners embarked on their mammoth unbeaten run. But he’d later redeem himself, smashing home a spot-kick in front of the Stretford End to end their run at 49 games – and you could see how much it meant to him.
As the Treble winners aged and Sir Alex started to rebuild, Ruud’s goals kept us competitive. He became the club’s record European marksman and stretched his record run of scoring in consecutive Premier League games to 10. There were FA Cup and League Cup triumphs too, although van Nistelrooy missed out on the latter in 2006 after he was ruthlessly dropped by Ferguson.