“Ruud van Nistelrooy has been the best – without doubt the best finisher we have ever had at this club. We have had some brilliant centre forwards at United. Eric Cantona was an incredible player. Then there was Mark Hughes and Brian McClair – who was very under-rated. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is a fabulous player. He would be good to have played with because you know that if you knock anything down to him he would score.
“Andy Cole had a great time with us. He and Dwight Yorke had that fantastic season in 1999 that year they were the best partnership in Europe. Teddy Sheringham was also good. Then you look at the current squad, with Alan Smith, Louis Saha and Wayne Rooney.
“But van Nistelrooy has been the best, absolutely the best finisher. If I had played alongside Ruud the problem would have been getting a chance ahead of him.
“Ruud was an incredible striker in the box! Every chance was a goal. He was quick as a player and always had a feeling for a good position as a striker. If you knew you had him in your team, you were very happy because he scored in most games. That was his big quality – he could score goals and create chances for himself out of nothing.
“The amount of goals he scored in his career, particularly for United, makes him a legend. He was very important for the team and he helped United win some titles as well. You’re always proud if a fellow countryman does something well at a big club like United. You look up to players like him.
– Daley Blind
“I would never have expected Ruud Van Nistelrooy to miss a penalty. Because Ruud Van Nistelrooy was brilliant. Ruud was the best finisher, ever, but especially in one on one situations, just the keeper to beat. When Ruud was going through one on one, I never doubted him. Some players would be going, “******* hell – hard and low? Or dink it over?”, but when Ruud was through there might as well have been no goalkeeper.
– Roy Keane
“His motivation has always been that he is a world-class footballer who loves scoring.
– Sir Alex Ferguson
“He has the ultimate mentality of a striker. He’s always concentrating so he can be in the right position to anticipate a pass or be in the right place to receive it. That’s what makes him so effective. There is nobody in the world like him. David Trezeguet is a similar player but he doesn’t have the same quality, control and technique. Ruud keeps control of the ball with three players trying to get it off him. He is the complete forward.”
– Louis Saha
“I’m delighted. It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. He thoroughly deserves it, especially as he has come back from a serious injury. To achieve what he has done since then is fantastic.”
– Denis Law on Van Nistelrooy breaking his record for most goals by a Manchester United player in European competition.
“I have been privileged to have played with a lot of good strikers, and Ruud is up there with them. Ruud has a bit of everything. He can also dribble and is prepared to take players on.”
– Ryan Giggs
“His is the hardest position to play at the club because the pressure is always on to score goals. Ruud absolutely thrives on that. Since he pulled on a Manchester United jersey, he looks like he was made to play for this club. You can tell by the way he plays he enjoys it as well. He can become one of our greatest strikers. Like all great strikers he has this self-belief that he is going to score.
– Phil Neville
“[Van Nistelrooy] was the most devastating finisher I have ever played with. We could win a game by three or four goals but, if he hadn’t scored, he would sulk. But in order to become a world-beating striker like Ruud, you need to have that attitude. He lived and breathed goals. I tried to make him stay through speaking to his agent but it was too late. One of the big disappointments in my time at Manchester United was seeing the club let him go.
– Rio Ferdinand picking Ruud van Nistelrooy in his all-time Manchester United XI
“Van Nistelrooy is my only role model. I watch the way he moves and the way he addresses the ball and try to take in and apply what I have observed.”
– André-Pierre Gignac
“In England they are just finding out that me and Van Nistelrooy are from the same area. But I wouldn’t say we’re being mentioned in the same breath — maybe that will come. I would think that’s an enormous honour. I’m not as far as him yet.”
– Vincent Janssen
“I always admired Ruud van Nistelrooy in my position. He was a star attraction for me.
– Radamel Falcao
“The thing about Ruud was that he never wanted to give the keeper a sniff.
“Ruud is very impressive in front of goal. When he gets a chance, he always seems to score.