Rutgerus Johannes Martinus van Nistelrooy, (Dutch pronunciation: [ryt vɑn ˈnɪstəlroːi̯] ( listen); born 1 July 1976), better known as Ruud van Nistelrooy, is a Dutch footballer who plays as a striker for Málaga CF in Spain's La Liga. He is the second-highest goalscorer in Champions League history with 60 goals. He is a three-time Champions League top scorer, as well as a top scorer in three different European domestic leagues.
Van Nistelrooy began his career with Den Bosch, before moving onto Heerenveen, eventually making a name for himself at PSV Eindhoven where he won two Dutch leagues. His goalscoring record at PSV attracted attention from Manchester United; a deal was in place in the summer of 2000, but because of injury problems his move was secured a year later for a then British record fee of £19 million.
Van Nistelrooy hit 150 goals in just 219 games for United, as well as being their all time European record goalscorer, but fell out of favour towards the end of his tenure. Real Madrid then secured his services in 2006. Although an injury blighted the end of his days with Madrid, he did win La Liga twice and the Supercopa de España before signing for Hamburg during the January transfer window in 2010.
Van Nistelrooy capped off the year by winning the Dutch Player of the Year award. The next season, he won his second Eredivisie scoring title with 29 goals. According to a 2001 interview with The Telegraph, Manchester United coach Alex Ferguson said that his son Darren, who was at tryouts for Eredivisie rival Heerenveen at the time, begged his father, "You've got to sign Van Nistelrooy right away, he's fantastic. We've been watching him.
Van Nistelrooy looked set to complete an £18.5 million transfer to Manchester United in the summer of 2000. A press conference had been called to confirm Van Nistelrooy's arrival, but instead this was used to announce that the transfer had been delayed over concerns about his fitness. Days later, he suffered ruptured cruciate knee ligaments during a training session and the deal was axed.
Van Nistelrooy signed a five-year contract after passing his medical. He downplayed United's £19 million investment to reporters, saying "The price is not heavy for me – it lifts me up because it means United have big confidence in me.
Van Nistelrooy missed most of the 2004–05 season due to injury, but nonetheless scored a Champions League-best eight goals. One of them was his thirtieth career European goal, which he scored in a 2–2 Champions League group stage draw with Lyon on 16 September 2004, overtaking Denis Law's previous club record of 28 goals. Law later said to reporters, "I'm delighted for Ruud. It could not happen to a nicer guy.