“Things could just switch just like that in training.”
Rio Ferdinand has recalled the time when he nearly came to blows with Ruud van Nistelrooy during a Manchester United training session.
Ferdinand joined United from Leeds United in 2002, a year after Van Nistelrooy had moved to Old Trafford from PSV Eindhoven.
Both players were crucial to United’s Premier League-winning side of 2002/03. While Van Nistelrooy scored goals for fun, Ferdinand improved the leaky United defence that had held them back during the 2001/02 campaign.
However, as Ferdinand recounted on his Vibe with Five YouTube show, the pair didn’t always see eye to eye.
“It was mad at United, things could just switch just like that in training,” said Ferdinand.
“I think all training grounds are the same, there’s a lot of testosterone flying about.”
When asked if he’d ever been involved in a fight in training, Ferdinand detailed his row with Van Nistelrooy, which came about after the Dutchman ‘smashed’ Cristiano Ronaldo.
Ferdinand and Van Nistelrooy.
“It never really got to that,” added Ferdinand.
“It’s funny, because I’ve got the biggest mouth on the training ground. I used to always be shouting and screaming and I used to love jokes.
“Obviously, I got serious in training, with the games and that, especially on a Friday before the game on a Saturday, everyone’s playing, it would be hard games, fast games.
“One time something happened with Ruud. Ruud van Nistelrooy smashed Cristiano Ronaldo a couple of times.
“And then the ball went into Ruud and I smashed Ruud. I said, ‘What are you doing? Why are you kicking him for?’.
“And then Ruud got up and he was [not happy] and all the players just got in the way, so nothing happened.
“But that’s the way it used to be in training. I was thinking, ‘Ronnie’s a young kid man, leave him alone, what you doing?’, but Ruud was an animal, an animal player.”
Van Nistelrooy scored 150 goals in 219 games for United but left to join Real Madrid in 2006 after falling out with Alex Ferguson.
Van Nistelrooy misses out on Golden Boot.
A remarkably driven goalscorer, Ferdinand also spoke of the Dutch striker’s insatiable appetite for goals, revealing how he reacted to missing out on the Golden Boot to Arsenal’s Thierry Henry.
“He’s the best finisher I played with. Brutal finisher,” said Ferdinand.
“If he’d stayed at United he’d have broken every record going, he was a joke. We’d play a game, we’d win 4-1, but he didn’t score, he’s in the training room after and he looked emotional.
“I thought, ‘Wow, this guy cares that we won this much, Ruud’s my guy’. I asked him if he was alright, he goes ‘I didn’t score! I didn’t score!’ He was vexed!
“To put the nail in the coffin, Thierry [Henry] scored two on the same day so the Golden Boot was going away. He was fuming. He was so driven to score, he was born to just score.”