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

Ruud van Nistelrooy says Sir Alex Ferguson prevented him from winning the Golden Boot in 2002
Ruud van Nistelrooy says Sir Alex Ferguson prevented him from winning the Golden Boot in 2002 (Getty)

Ruud van Nistelrooy has revealed that Sir Alex Ferguson blocked him from winning the Premier League Golden Boot ahead of Thierry Henry because Manchester United had missed out on winning the Premier League title.

Arsenal finished seven points clear of United to win the league title in the 2001-2002 campaign, while the race for the Golden Boot was just as tight with Henry, Van Nistelrooy, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Alan Shearer all competing for top spot.

Henry eventually won the Golden Boot as he finished the league season with 24 goals, while Van Nistelrooy Shearer and Hasselbaink all ended one behind on 23 goals.

And Van Nistelrooy claims Ferguson purposely dropped him from United’s final league game of the season against Charlton Athletic in order to ensure that he missed out on beating Henry.

‘It started later in the press than it actually started for me. I admired him [Henry] from day one. I admired him,’ Van Nistelrooy told Rio Ferdinand’s Vibe with Five.

‘I saw him play, I studied his game. I knew how good he was at the time I was like, I want to compete with him, I need to get my levels there.

Thierry Henry ended up as the Premier League's top scorer in the 2001-02 season
Thierry Henry ended up as the Premier League’s top scorer in the 2001-02 season (Getty)

‘Thierry was doing stuff in the Premiership when I was at PSV. That was hard stuff! I want to compete with him to push myself.

‘Alan Shearer was obviously up there in the top flight for the Golden Boot. First year I was challenging that.

‘But the gaffer [Sir Alex Ferguson] left me out in the last game of the season. He said, ‘you’re not challenging for the Golden Boot, we didn’t win the league son, you’re out’. He left him on the stands man, not even on the bench. I didn’t even have a hope!

‘I was up there and was thinking that was a game I could get a few. One more goal! He made me sharp, in that moment.

‘No trophies that year so that message, ‘your goals, fine, they help us but you need to connect it to titles’. That was the message.

‘It was clear in my head when he left me in the stands that I was already starting the new season. When the manager said something it was clear. He just explained it to me like that.

‘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.’

Van Nistelrooy won the Golden Boot the following season, while United recaptured the league title.

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