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Former Manchester United striker Ruud van Nistelrooy has decided to hang up his boots after enduring a difficult season with Spanish side Malaga. The Dutchman, who scored 5 goals in 35 appearances in this season's La Liga, played out his final game against Sporting Gijon, helping his team to a 1 - 0 victory. On calling it quits Van Nistelrooy said, "I've played my last match in my professional career. I wanted to play in the Champions League, but it is the moment to leave. I have arrived at my physical limit and I can't play at the maximum level. I couldn't have had a better send-off than this. I feel happy that I am the one taking this decision. I would like to thank Malaga, the technical and medical staff for an unforgettable year. I am proud to have won collective and individual titles, but my greatest satisfaction was to be able to work day after day, year after year."
Van Nistelrooy began his career at Dutch second division side Den Bosch, where he was converted from a central midfielder to a striker. He moved on to greener pastures, playing for clubs such as Heerenveen and PSV Eindhoven. The sharp shooter won two consecutive scoring titles in the Dutch Eredivisie during his spell at PSV. Sir Alex Ferguson snapped up the striker for a fee of Â£19 million in April 2001 after the deal fell through in the summer 2000, owing to the striker's fitness problems.
At Manchester United, van Nistelrooy prospered as one of the best strikers in the history of the league, scoring 36 goals in all competitions in his first season at Old Trafford and earning the PFA Player of the Year award along the way. In his 5 seasons with the English giants he scored 150 goals in all competitions, winning a Premier League title, a FA Cup and a League Cup. According to reports in the press, things turned sore between Sir Alex and the striker which resulted in him being benched for a Carling Cup final between Wigan Athletic and Manchester United. The two failed to reconcile until the end of the season which resulted in a â‚¬24 million to Real Madrid. At the Spanish club, van Nistelrooy scored 64 goals in all competitions winning two La Liga titles on the way. A decent stint at German club Hamburg followed after he fell out of favour at Real and finally he found himself at his final club Malaga.
The Dutchman contributed significantly to the Netherlands national team as well scoring 35 goals in the 70 games he featured in. He was part of the squad Oranje squads of Euro 2004, Euro 2008 and the FIFA World Cup in 2006 in Germany. As a player, van Nistelrooy was hailed as one of the best goal poachers in the game with a perfect sense of positioning and equally brilliant finishing ability. His retirement signals the end to a career that provided goal fests to fans in the Netherlands, England, Spain and Germany. He will be fondly remembered by Manchester United fans, especially, for he came to Old Trafford at a time when Thierry Henry and Arsenal threatened to usurp the domination of the Red Devils in English football. We wish the Dutchman luck for his life after football.
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