Ruud van Nistelrooy has opened up on what it was like to share a dressing room with Roy Keane.
Van Nistelrooy arrived at Manchester United in 2001 from PSV Eindhoven and soon became a mainstay in Alex Ferguson’s first team, scoring 36 goals in his debut season with the Red Devils.
The Dutch forward quickly established a reputation for reliable finishing and a poacher’s instinct in front of goal but his instant impact didn’t absolve him of the infamous wrath of then-club captain Roy Keane.
Van Nistelrooy has revealed how Keane took a few months to ease up on the Netherlands forward but Van Nistelrooy can now appreciate that Keane was trying to establish standards at Old Trafford and the striker admitted he was shocked when Keane left the club in 2005.
“In the first three months, he [Keane] was so on top of me,” Van Nistelrooy said on the UTD Podcast. “Everything I did, he was like; ‘do this, do this’.
“After one month, I thought it was going to stop but it took a few months! Scoring my first goals, he was like; ‘yeah you scored, but it’s on to the next game’.
“He kept your feet on the ground. It’s not always nice to hear.
“I snapped at him and was like; ‘for once, just shut up’.
“In the end, you look back on it. [During] my time at United, he always led by example and never took anything for granted himself.
“It’s not always nice, but he was right, and I was actually shocked when he left. I was really disappointed with that.”
After Keane’s United exit, Van Nistelrooy wasn’t too far behind him as the Dutchman brought an end to his Premier League career in 2006 following an unceremonious falling-out with Alex Ferguson.
Van Nistelrooy looks back on his time with United fondly, however, and praised the dressing room that the club was lucky enough to have at the time.
“The core of it was United through and through. That’s what you could feel when you came into it,” Van Nistelrooy explained.
“Of course, there was Gary [Neville], Phil [Neville], [Paul] Scholes, Butty [Nicky Butt], Maysie [David May]. They all were part of that British-English core. There were Mancs everywhere!
“There was also Roy Keane, a very strong influence in that dressing room together with the group I mentioned.
“As a newcomer, you knew you had to adjust to that culture and that’s what made the dressing room. That’s why the dressing room is so important, to keep the values and the culture of the club alive.
“Also, the kitman Albert [Morgan] and the staff around it were United. That was the culture of the club. That’s why they were so successful in all those times and, hopefully, they’re now starting a new era of success.”