Man Utd legend was in awe of AC Milan’s epic 2005 side


Manchester United legend Ruud van Nistelrooy is believed to be on the verge of securing his first ever managerial role this summer.

According to Dutch outlet Ed, via talkSPORT, the 45-year-old is considered the ‘leading candidate’ to succeed the departing Roger Schmidt at PSV.

Van Nistelrooy is said to have impressed club chiefs while coaching reserve side Jong PSV, following a successful three-year spell looking after the U18s – and is set to take the reigns of the senior side when Schmidt departs the Philips Stadion at the end of the current campaign.

Back in his own playing days, Van Nistelrooy was a prolific striker, especially during his five-season stint at Old Trafford.

Between 2001 and 2006, Van Nistelrooy fired 150 goals in 219 appearances for United becoming one of the most feared frontmen in the world game.

One of the few defences that Van Nistelrooy couldn’t unlock during his time at the ‘Theatre of Dreams’ was that of AC Milan.

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MILAN, ITALY- MARCH 8: Ruud Van Nistelrooy of Manchester United gets tackled by Jaap Stam of AC Milan during the Champions League last 16, second leg match between AC Milan and Manchester United at the San Siro Staium on March 8, 2005 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Phil Cole/Getty Images)

Not that there was any shame in being thwarted by the Milan backline of 2005. Comprised of Paolo Maldini, Jaap Stam, Alessandro Nesta and Cafu, few strikers around Europe at the time could truthfully have said they were looking forward to the task.

Ultimately, United fell to a 2-0 aggregate defeat against Milan in the last-16 of the 2004/05 Champions League, much to the frustration of Van Nistelrooy.

As part of a video that went viral on Twitter last year, though, the former United striker admitted his deep appreciation for how the Milan side of that era operated.

Watch: Ruud van Nistelrooy on how special the 2005 AC Milan side was

“I played against AC Milan at the San Siro and there was a back four of Cafu, Jaap Stam, Maldini and Nesta.

“So I was just like… that is interesting you know. Ok… They were pretty good. All four of them and how they worked as a unit. 

“There was Gattuso just in front. You know he’s like ‘I’m going to kill you every time you get the ball’.

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“And then Pirlo… he’s fantastic. [Clarence] Seedorf was playing in that team too. Strongest man in the world.

“I didn’t score that game. I couldn’t. I couldn’t get near a shot. Like 4/5 players flying in which I had the ball. That was pretty amazing.”

It was the sort of defensive mentality that Van Nistelrooy will hope to instil in his own side once he takes over in a head coach role.

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MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 23: Ruud Van Nistelrooy of Manchester United is tackled by Alessandro Nesta of AC Milan during the UEFA Champions League first leg match between Manchester United and AC Milan at Old Trafford on February 23, 2005 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

For a player of Van Nistelrooy’s quality to openly concede that his opposition was simply too good really is quite the statement.

Famously, it took a herculean comeback from Liverpool in that season’s Champions League final to prevent Milan from lifting the trophy.

Trailing 3-0 at half-time in Istanbul, Rafa Benitez’s Reds somehow fought back to secure a 3-3 draw in normal time, before eventually going on to triumph on penalties in dramatic fashion.

A truly iconic side, beaten in legendary style.

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