Manchester United legend Rio Ferdinand remembers how Ruud van Nistelrooy used to be left gutted every time Thierry Henry got on the scoresheet for Arsenal in the Premier League.
The two strikers were among the most potent in world football during the early 2000s.
And their rivalry for the Golden Boot was certainly intense, on and off the pitch.
Van Nistelrooy moved to Old Trafford in 2001 and adapted to English football quickly.
But the Dutchman had to watch Arsenal win the title in his first season with United as well as see Henry claim the Golden Boot.
The 2002/03 campaign was his most enjoyable as it brought his only Premier League title success and his only Golden Boot, after he netted 25 times in 34 games.
Gunners record goalscorer Henry, though, showed over the following few years why many regard him as one of English football’s greatest ever imports.
The Frenchman claimed the 2004, 2005 and 2006 Golden Boots before Van Nistelrooy fell out with Sir Alex Ferguson and left United for Real Madrid.
While Van Nistelrooy was a team player, Ferdinand knows the ex-United hitman was truly motivated by his personal achievements too, and Henry got in the way of many more awards.
“You’ve had all these rivalries over the years, great players need great rivalries,” Ferdinand said. “They need rivalries. They should be looking at each other.
“Ruud van Nistelrooy used to come in the changing room after a game, trust me, we’re trying to win the league, we’ve beat someone 3-1 or 4-1, he’s scored one goal, he’ll come in and look up to the TV [shake his head] and go ‘ohh’.
“He sits down, [we ask] ‘Ruud, are you alright, what’s wrong?’. And he’ll reply, ‘nothing, nothing’.
“Then someone will go, ‘Thierry has scored two today, Ruud has only scored one, so he’s a goal behind now.’ And he’s sitting there devastated, and you can see it.
“I used to sit there and this this guy is mad, we just won 3-1, he’s scored a banger, set someone up as well, and he’s disappointed.”
Ferdinand understood Van Nistelrooy’s attitude, as he added: “That’s the drive you want, the determination. That’s the single-mindedness you need if you want to be at the top. You need that.
“I used to think that about Nemanja Vidic, John Terry and Sol Campbell with England. I’ve got to be better than them. Whether you are or not you work that out at the end of your career.”
Henry eventually went on to score 174 goals in eight Premier League seasons for Arsenal before leaving English football 12 months later than Van Nistelrooy for Barcelona.
The Red Devils finisher was hardly off the pace, though, compared to Henry, as Van Nistelrooy netted 95 times in 150 Premier League games across five seasons.
His 2004/05 campaign was hampered by injury, too, as Van Nistelrooy scored just six goals in 17 appearances.
Van Nistelrooy also enjoyed the best personal season between the two of them, as his 2002/03 campaign amassed a staggering 44 goals in 52 games across all competitions, including 14 in the Champions League.
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