Rio Ferdinand reveals he nearly fought Manchester United teammate Ruud van Nistelrooy after ‘smashing’ him in training


The two players had to be separated by their teammates before things escalated (Picture: Getty)

Rio Ferdinand has revealed that he nearly came to blows with Ruud van Nistelrooy in Manchester United training after ‘smashing’ the forward as payback for a naughty challenge on Cristiano Ronaldo.

The central defender moved to Old Trafford a year after Van Nistelrooy had signed from PSV and they lifted the Premier League title together in 2003, though the Dutchman was offloaded three years later when it became clear he could not play alongside the emerging Ronaldo.

Tensions between Van Nistelrooy and Ronaldo were clear in training and Ferdinand nearly got into a scrap with the striker when he intervened on behalf of the young Portuguese winger.

Ferdinand went in hard on Van Nistelrooy after he ‘smashed’ Ronaldo (Picture: Getty)

‘It was mad at United, things could just switch just like that [clicks fingers] in training. I think all training grounds are the same, there’s a lot of testosterone flying about,’ Ferdinand explained on his Vibe With FIVE YouTube show.

Asked if he was ever involved in a fight, Ferdinand continued: ‘It never really got to that. It’s funny, because I’ve got the biggest mouth on the training ground. I used to always be shouting and screaming and I used to love jokes.

‘Obviously I got serious in training, with the games and that, especially on a Friday before the game on a Saturday, everyone’s playing, it would be hard games, fast games.

‘One time something happened with Ruud. Ruud van Nistelrooy smashed Cristiano Ronaldo a couple of times, went down his Achilles.

‘And then the ball went into Ruud and I smashed Ruud. I said, “What you doing? Why you kicking him for?”

‘And then Ruud got up and he was [not happy] and all the players just got in the way, so nothing happened.

‘But that’s the way it used to be in training. I was thinking, “Ronnie’s a young kid man, leave him alone, what you doing?” but Ruud was an animal, an animal player.

Ronaldo and Van Nistelrooy did not get on well before the latter’s sale to Real Madrid (Getty)

‘He’s the best finisher I played with. Brutal finisher. If he’d stayed at United he’d have broken every record going, he was a joke.

‘We’d play a game, we’d win 4-1, but he didn’t score, he’s in the training room after and he looked emotional. I thought, “Wow, this guy cares that we won this much, Ruud’s my guy”. I asked him if he was alright, he goes “I didn’t score! I didn’t score!” He was vexed!

‘To put the nail in the coffin, Thierry [Henry] scored two on the same day so the Golden Boot was going away. He was fuming. He was so driven to score, he was born to just score.’


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