UTD Unscripted: Ruud van Nistelrooy – The journey to Old Trafford 22 April 2021

    That process requires constant management, so you have to be surrounded by professionals who know what they’re doing to get you strong but quick, and without being bulky. You don’t want to get slower on the turn or become really massive at the cost of your agility, especially as a striker. My programme was made perfectly.

    I went away from PSV to train because I found it hard to be in the dressing room where all the players were fit, training and happy every day. I wanted to be in my own process with the physio that I trusted and it became a perfect combination in the end. Of course, I would go to see the lads at PSV and eat with them at the training ground or watch them training, but not every day like when you’re fit and playing.

    I did a lot of total body work – upper body, legs, core – because if you’re strong and quick in your legs, and you can use your upper body as well for extra strength, it’s a good combination. I think that total approach paid off. The rehab went perfectly. Looking back now, I think I scored 80 of my 150 goals for United in my first two years at the club, and that was all because of the time that I put in during my rehab. I had a lot of confidence all along that I would be fine because I felt really good from the start.

    I also had extra motivation because Sir Alex was checking in on me every month or so. He called me right away after the injury and he was very comforting in the sense that he gave me a very clear message: “Start your rehab, get it right and you’ll be a United player in the end,” and he kept calling throughout my rehab. I think he must have had an agenda set in his computer that popped up: *PING* Ring Ruud. He’d call on either my landline or mobile and check in.

    “How are you? How’s it going? Do you need anything?”

    We were in touch all the time. That was special too, because it kept the bond between us going. Obviously the deal was completely off when I got injured, but there was a connection there and he kept that going, so in my mind it didn’t change.

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    I remember when he rang me when we had to turn the car around. “Watch,” he told me. “You’ll be a United player.” It’s hard to believe those words in the moment because you think he’s just trying to be nice because you’re disappointed. You know how the football world is. It was a good feeling to hear him say it, but I couldn’t really believe it. In the end, we kept in touch and obviously I knew that if I wasn’t going to be as good or as fit as I was before the injury, then of course United weren’t going to sign me. Everybody knows that. But when you know the trust and the faith that the gaffer has in you, your belief is strengthened by it. It really helped me.

    He wasn’t my manager, but he was.

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