Manchester United

Ruud Van Nistelrooy names toughest four-man defence he thought would "kill him"

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Ruud van Nistelrooy named his toughest Manchester United opponents
Ruud van Nistelrooy named his toughest Manchester United opponents / BSR Agency/GettyImages
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Ruud van Nistelrooy has named his toughest Manchester United opponents, admitting he thought they would have "killed him".

The Dutchman is regarded as one of the best strikers in the Premier League of all-time and has scored 150 times in 219 appearances for the Red Devils. However, the 45-year-old has revealed that Milan's back-four of Cafu, Jaap Stam, Alessandro Nesta, and Paolo Maldini were the toughest defensive setup he played against throughout his career.

“Italian defences were horrible to play against,” he told the Oxford Union. “They all stay behind, it’s like, ‘Wow, go on full-backs, go forward a bit.’ And they are having none of it. They’d rather not concede than score!

“The defence I played against [of] Cafu, Jaap Stam, Alessandro Nesta and Paolo Maldini. That was incredible. And then they had [Gennaro] Gattuso in front of them. I thought they'd kill me if I got the ball.

“Oh, and then they had [Andrea] Pirlo and [Clarence] Seedorf, the strongest man in football. That was a tough night. I didn't get near a shot.”

United were knocked out of the Champions League by Milan after back-to-back wins in the round-of-16 matches. Van Nistelrooy spent five seasons at United before leaving in 2006 after a heated argument with Sir Alex Ferguson.

He signed for Real Madrid in a reported £10.2m deal, and despite his injuries, managed to score 64 times in 96 appearances and lifted two LaLiga titles with the Spanish club.

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