Van the man back in tune with van Basten
Dutch striker Ruud van Nistelrooy realises that Euro 2008 may well be his last appearance on a major international stage as he promises to give his best shot.Updated: Jun 08, 2008 23:19 IST
Dutch striker Ruud van Nistelrooy cuts a much happier figure these days than he did at the 2006 World Cup finals and with him soon to turn 32 he realises that Euro 2008 may well be his last appearance on a major international stage.
The Real Madrid sharpshooter was totally out of sorts at the World Cup as he was out in the cold at Manchester United and was eventually dropped to the bench for the ill-tempered second round match with Portugal - if looks could kill he would have disposed of coach Marco van Basten.
When he was told that van Basten could not guarantee him being an automatic pick that was that for the former PSV Eindhoven star, who closed down his international career - a situation which stayed like that for a year.
However, unlike midfielders Marc van Bommel and latterly Clarence Seedorf he has made his peace with van Basten, though, he admits it doesn't mean they will be going out to dinner a deux in the forseeable future.
"This conflict is forgotten," van Nistelrooy told AFP.
"Our relationship, though, is strictly professional.
"We both share the same goal and vision: to do everything possible to win Euro 2008.
"It is not necessary to go to a restaurant together in order to do one's job."
However, it took some persuading van Basten to welcome him back, but for the senior players there was no doubt what the outcome should be.
"We could not do without such a goalscorer for long," explained goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar, who mediated between the two.
What has really transformed van Nistelrooy - who had a massive falling out with United boss Sir Alex Ferguson which led to him even being banned from attending let alone play in Roy Keane's testimonial - has been his move to Real Madrid where he rediscovered his verve and scoring boots.
"I am better in my shoes these days, than I was two years ago," said van Nistelrooy, variously known as 'Van Gol' or 'Van the Man' a title normally reserved for legendary Irish singer Van Morrison.
"I am a lot calmer. I was coming out of a difficult time at Manchester United and it had drained me of my confidence. But now, everything has fallen back into place: I've rediscovered my sharpness," added van Nistelrooy, who in his first season at Real Madrid was anointed 'Pichichi' or leading scorer in the Spanish league with 25 goals.