UEFA Euro 2012 Poland & Ukraine
Group E - Qualifications
Van Nistelrooy: "This is a reward"
3 September 2010
Two months after the World Cup
he would have loved to be part of Ruud van Nistelrooy
is back with the Dutch team. He calls it "the tragedy
of the moment", but he has overcome the disappointment.
"This great, isn't it? I hadn't reckoned with this
anymore. I'm having great fun."
Under applause of his team mates
Van Nistelrooy stepped onto the training ground on Tuesday.
He was called up again because of the injury of Robin
van Persie. Already having bagged six goals this season
for Hamburg Van Nistelrooy is fit. "The manager
said he named me because of my achievements." He
hadn't expected it, but that doesn't mean he relishes
the fact any less.
He looks relaxed in hotel Huis
ter Duin in Noordwijk. He says he doesn't have any expectations
or guarantees. "I see this as a bonus. It's an
open story. I don't know what will happen when Van Persie
is back. Perhaps I can stay on the team. For now I just
think this is great."
After a moment of silence he says: "Just how great
is this? I didn't expect this. Every game I play from
now on... This is great fun. It's a joke, no? Not that
I am not taking it serious, but I managed to get back
on the team, after two years. Of course I would have
rather played a World Cup-final than away to San Marino.
But the goal in itself was to get back on the team.
Of course I see the tragedy of the moment. But I can
live with that."
Some people in his entourage reacted
negatively to his selection. "They said about Van
Marwijk: let him go to hell. You're good enough for
San Marino-away and not good enough for the World Cup.
But no hard feelings. I don't feel abused or anything.
The World Cup is over."
He does still feel he could have
played a key part in South Africa. "I still feel
that. Just like the Bondscoach sticks to his
decision not to take me along. We will never know who
was right." He puts on a big smile: "But I
can hardly say he didn't do well huh..."
The reason for Van Marwijk back then, early May, was
that Van Nistelrooy hadn't yet reached his old level,
in terms of fitness and ability. "I would tell
a lie when I say that I was as fit then as I am now.
I have had a long vacation and a pre-season of eight
weeks. A German pre-season as well, with sometimes three
training sessions a day. I feel fitter than ever."
But there must have been moments
of frustration when he was sitting in front of the TV
in June and July? Moments when he thought 'I would have
scored that one'. Yet he firmly denies that. "No
really, I didn't. The first two games were painful.
But after that the Oranje-feeling came back and
I was drawn to the tele. I hoped they would win. Of
course there were friends and family members who tried
to be nice and said 'you would have scored three today'.
But that is very opportunistic, of course. You can't
say that, sitting on the couch."
The man in 'his' position, Robin
van Persie, of course had his special attention. Choosing
his words carefully and respectful, he says: "I
saw Robin saying on TV how hard it is to be the center
forward of Holland. I was thinking: 'I know that'. I
felt sorry for him. I thought he was being very honest
about it. I really hoped he would start scoring and
But Van Nistelrooy can't deny that Van Persie is not
the prolific scorer that he himself was whenever he
was fit - and might prove to be still. "I believe
he was not on his best form during the World Cup. Robin
is not a real goal getter. He is a guy who is
looking for great things with skill and style as his
starting point. But the opponents played very tight
and then you depend on service from your team mates
of which here was too little."
But he understood the choice of
Van Marwijk to leave Van Persie on, even when it became
clear that he was suffering. "I too had the feeling
like he could explode any moment. The coach thought
in much the same ways. That is good, I think."
Van Nistelrooy realizes that he will not be in the starting
lineup against San Marino. But he's enjoying every minute
of it. "These players are unique. The way Sneijder
throws his passes around, left and right: magnificent."
And then there is this record that
seemed unachievable in the past two years, but that
now comes into view again. So far he has scored 33 goals
in 64 games. One more goal and he will pass Johan Cruyff
en Abe Lenstra on the list of all time top goal scorers.
Another eight goals will put him on the number one spot
that is now held by Patrick Kluivert. "Well, eight
goals, that's many goals," he shrugs.
Despite all the joy of his renewed
membership it could very well be that it's all over
after just these two games. "That is why I am enjoying
every minute of it. But when I stay fit and I can maintain
my current level there's is a chance I make it to the
European Championships, and that would be terrific.
But I see this as a reward for two years of hard work
and a lot of injury trouble."
2012 campaign - Results, schedule, standings
at European Championships
time European Championships ranking