World Soccer: Is there a moment when you’re not thinking about your move to Manchester United?
Ruud Van Nistelrooy: To be honest, I’ve not been thinking about Manchester very often. It is still a while before I go to England. But on and off the pitch players and other people are congratulating me and then I start thinking ‘Yes, that’s true, I’m going to Manchester’. But when I’m playing or training with PSV I’m not thinking about things like selling my house or decorating my new one.
Are United the club of yourdreams?
That’s what they asked me at the press conference and I said no. On that occasion it would have been very simple to say that they are, but that isn’t the case. I never used to be a fan of Manchester United, just as I was never a supporter of any other foreign club.
So you could have chosen to go to Real Madrid instead.
They were showing interest at the last moment. But that never crossed my mind, although I know that Real Madrid were very serious. But by then I had set my heart on Manchester United. At the time, to me, there wasn’t any other club.
Still, during your long-term injury Alex Ferguson could have opted to buy another striker. He didn’t.
That’s one of the things that persuaded me to sign for Manchester United. They were prepared to wait another year for me. They kept faith in me. I can tell you it is a great feeling to know that.
United seem to have lost touch in the Champions League. Immediately after being eliminated by Bayern Munich, many people said the club needed new blood. And then they signed you?
But that doesn’t mean I will be a key player immediately. I’m not under theillusion that it is going to happen overnight. That’s something that has to develop. When I’m there, I’m going to do my job, try to get a place in the starting line-up and then we will see what happens.
So there isn’t extra pressure?
Why should there be? How many players get a chance at the age of 25 to play for Manchester United? Not that many, so let’s enjoy it. Why should I feel pressure now that I’m getting that chance? If you want to describe my feeling, it’s more like being privileged and proud that I’m going to play in Manchester.
What about the headlines of the English tabloids? ‘Better than Van Basten’, ‘Vanthe 19 million man’. Isn’t that something of a heavy burden? No, that’s commonplace in England.
Those headlines don’t mean that my personal feelings have suddenly changed. I’m reading them, but they’re not affecting me. I don’t know if it’s exaggerated. It’s up to the British journalists what they want to write. I know there is a difference between English and Dutch newspapers. Every country has its own way of writing and this is theirs.
But they have investigated everything about you, going right back to your childhood. That is something that doesn’t usually happen in Holland.
That’s true. Soon after the contract was signed, some of the English media went to my place of birth and that of my girlfriend. They have spoken to all sorts of people, former team-mates and relatives. It’s absolutely incredible that they think my youth is so interesting. When all this was going on, my mother asked me what she should do. I told her to act as normally as possible. There’s nothing much you can do about it, anyway.
So you’re a United player at last. Are you looking forward to it?
Yes, and I’m going to enjoy it. Not only the football or the club but also the language and the different customs. Although I don’t think there will be much difference between Holland and England. Only the distance between me and my family will be increasing. On the other hand, Holland is not that far away.