Arsenal legend Thierry Henry responds to Ruud van Nistelrooy’s rivalry comments

Arsenal legend Thierry Henry responds to Ruud van Nistelrooy's rivalry comments
The Dutch striker was obsessed with beating Henry to the Golden Boot (Picture: Getty)

Arsenal icon Thierry Henry admits he did want to beat former Manchester United forward Ruud van Nistelrooy to the Golden Boot but never let their rivalry affect his on-pitch performances.

The prolific Dutch forward spoke recently about how he was motivated by his goalscoring battles with Henry, telling Rio Ferdinand’s Vibe with Five show: ‘I wanted to compete with him, I needed to get my levels there.’

Van Nistelrooy would often be disconsolate if he had failed to net but Henry had – even if United had won – while Sir Alex Ferguson even blocked him from trying to win the Golden Boot to fire him up for the following season.

Ruud van Nistelrooy Manchester United v Manchester City
Van Nistelrooy would be fuming if Henry had scored and he hadn’t (Picture: Getty)

‘It was clear in my head when he left me in the stands that I was already starting the new season,’ he continued. ‘I was sitting there watching the game checking if Thierry scored. He wanted to get me fired up for the next season. I wanted to keep up with Thierry.’

Henry has often played down the significance of his rivalry with Van Nistelrooy but, while he was not quite as obsessive as the Dutchman, he has confirmed he was always keeping a close eye on the United man.

Asked about Van Nistelrooy’s comments and if he also checked his rival’s goal hauls, Henry told The Robbie Fowler Podcast: ‘Yes I did, because it’s normal. You’re battling against someone.

‘I would be lying if I said it didn’t affect me, but it didn’t dictate me. It didn’t dictate my game.

‘I knew what I had to do for my team, I wasn’t going to shoot from every angle just for the sake of beating Ruud – and he was a hell of a player, don’t get me wrong.

‘The most important thing – as I always say – is we have to score. I don’t have to score. More often than not it would be me, but the team has to score not me. We have to win, not me.

‘You look at it, I didn’t score a lot of goals at Arsenal in my career where we lost the game. Those goals – I’m still taking them, don’t take them away from me! – but those goals didn’t mean anything for me.

‘The goals that I scored and we lost, they didn’t mean anything for me. Like I wasn’t going, “You know what, I’ve done my job, we lost 3-2 but I scored two goals, I don’t care”.

‘No I cared. I cared because I didn’t do enough – and that’s how you should feel as an individual.

Frenchman Thierry Henry of FC Arsenal
Henry won the Golden Boot in four out of five seasons, with Van Nistelrooy claiming it in 2002-03 (Picture: Getty)

‘So yes, did I look at Van Nistelrooy’s goals? Yes! Did I look at if Man United had won? Yes! It’s the same thing. It’s not always individual, we were battling with them so obviously I’m looking at what Man United did after the game.

‘Then I’m battling with Ruud van Nistelrooy, and I’m looking at that.

‘And, at the time, people didn’t care too much about assists, so I wasn’t looking at who was making assists or not. It became a thing recently, in the past four or five years everyone is showing assists, goal involvement and this and that.

‘So yes I did look at it, but that wasn’t going to dictate the person and the player I was going to be.’

MORE : Ruud van Nistelrooy reveals Sir Alex Ferguson blocked him from beating Thierry Henry to the Golden Boot in 2002

MORE : Ruud van Nistelrooy accepts he was ‘in the wrong’ after clashing with Cristiano Ronaldo at Manchester United

Follow Metro Sport across our social channels, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

For more stories like this, check our sport page.

No comments