Ferdinand recalls ‘smashing’ Van Nistelrooy in training over Cristiano Ronaldo

Rio Ferdinand has recalled the time he smashed 'animal' Ruud van Nistelrooy in training over a rough challenge on a young Cristiano Ronaldo.

Ferdinand joined Van Nistelrooy at Manchester United in 2002, and they won the Premier League title together the following season – with the centre-back hailing his team-mate as "a brutal finisher".

But the Dutch striker was moved on by Sir Alex Ferguson when it became clear he couldn't play alongside the emerging Ronaldo.

Former England centre-back Ferdinand said training sessions could be tense, as there was "a lot of testosterone flying about".

And he recalled getting in Van Nistelrooy's face after the striker went in on Ronaldo's Achilles.

"It was mad at United, things could just switch just like that [clicks fingers] in training," Ferdinand explained on his Vibe With FIVE YouTube show.

"I think all training grounds are the same, there’s a lot of testosterone flying about."

Asked if he was ever involved in a fight, Ferdinand said: "It never really got to that.

"It’s funny, because I’ve got the biggest mouth on the training ground. I used to always be shouting and screaming and I used to love jokes.

"Obviously I got serious in training, with the games and that, especially on a Friday before the game on a Saturday, everyone’s playing, it would be hard games, fast games.

"One time something happened with Ruud. Ruud van Nistelrooy smashed Cristiano Ronaldo a couple of times, went down his Achilles.

"And then the ball went into Ruud and I smashed Ruud. I said, 'What you doing? Why you kicking him for?'

"And then Ruud got up and he was [not happy] and all the players just got in the way, so nothing happened.

"But that’s the way it used to be in training. I was thinking, 'Ronnie’s a young kid man, leave him alone, what you doing?' but Ruud was an animal, an animal player."

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Van Nistelrooy scored 150 goals in 219 games for United, helping the Red Devils win an FA Cup and a League Cup as well as the Premier League crown.

He moved on to Real Madrid, where he won two La Liga titles.

But Ferdinand reckons the former PSV man, now 44, would have smashed the Red Devils' scoring records had he stayed at Old Trafford.

He says his former team-mate was a born winner – so much so that he'd get moody if he didn't score, even when United won.

"He’s the best finisher I played with. Brutal finisher," said the 42-year-old.

"If he’d stayed at United he’d have broken every record going, he was a joke.

"We’d play a game, we’d win 4-1, but he didn’t score, he’s in the training room after and he looked emotional.

"I thought, 'Wow, this guy cares that we won this much, Ruud’s my guy'. I asked him if he was alright, he goes 'I didn’t score! I didn’t score!'

"He was vexed! To put the nail in the coffin, Thierry [Henry] scored two on the same day so the Golden Boot was going away. He was fuming. He was so driven to score, he was born to just score."

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