Ruud Van Nistelrooy's Grandad
(This interview took place a few days before Ruud's transfer to Manchester
by Ties de Kort
In the first of a series of exclusive interviews with players'
relatives, Soccerphile's Ties de Kort speaks to Ruud van Nistelrooy's
granddad. Ruud has just joined Manchester United in a record £19m
The Dutch will qualify for World Cup
Ruud van Nistelrooy's grandparents feel very much at home in their
old farmhouse in Geffen, a small village about 40 kilometres north of
Eindhoven. And no wonder, considering that grandmother Marie (76) was
born there and grandfather Jan (83) has lived there since they got married
53 years ago. Their son Gert-Jan also lives there together with his family.
Ruud Van Nistelrooy
as a boy
| Gert-Jan is the youngest of eight children.
Their first was Tini (50), who in 1976 became the father of his first-born
son Ruud. Tini was a gifted left winger, well-known in the Geffen region.
His club (and all of his brothers') was called Nooit Gedacht (Never
Thought). Nooit Gedacht was also Ruud's first club.
He played there until he was 14 years old.
The only Van Nistelrooy that never played football is granddad. He didn't
have time, he was far too busy with his cows. He dedicated his entire
life to cattle-trade and farming. As a cattle-dealer he ranged the whole
country: I'm just a little farmer who is not able to do anything.
I understand more about cows than soccer, says grandpa, a spry looking
little chap, who prefers playing a game of billiards in the local pub
to watching a football match. I didn't grasp the offside rule
until Ruud became a professional player!
Of course, grandpa and grandma are proud of their famous grandson but
their attitude is down-to-earth. They sometimes dislike being a focus
of attention because of their being Ruud's grandparents. What
can I say? says grandma, We're nothing special, are we?.
But with great pleasure, she shows us lots of old family-pictures. We
get to see Ruud as a little boy, also as a young champion on old-time
team-photos. There's a photo of him with his first ball, aged two,
which was a gift from his uncle Gert-Jan.
A plucky little fellow
Grandpa remembers young Ruud as friendly and fit, a really sharp kid;
always playing with a ball at his club or together with his friends in
the streets. Already as a child he distinguished himself as a skillful
and enthusiastic footballer. Gradually he developed into an exceptional
talent. He combined his technical expertise with enormous ambition and
effort. He surprised himself with every step he took. Slowly he came to
realize that for him anything was possible in football - even a dream
transfer to Manchester United. But then came his knee injury.
Granddad: Success has many fathers, but his own father has always
been one of his greatest mentors. After every match he would review all
areas of Ruud's game.
The first time Ruud appeared on television gave quite a thrill to both
grandparents, although they don't remember the exact game. We
almost missed his first appearance in the Dutch national team, because
the match (against Germany) was broadcast by a network we could not receive.
Now they often watch television when Ruud is playing. They enjoy watching
him in the hope he will score yet again. For they know scoring goals is
his greatest quality, together with his ability to read the game. He
seems to have eyes in his back, says granddad. They hoped Ruud would
stay with PSV Eindhoven (though Sir Alex Ferguson of Manchester United
has finally got his man for a club record £19m), but believe Ruud
and his girlfriend Leontien will probably know what's best.
Grandpa Jan is a great fan of Leontien: She's a fine and beautiful
lady. That's what he whispered in Ruud's ear when they
both visited them during his recuperation.
Ruud had to miss Euro 2000 because of his cruciate injury. After the draw
against Portugal, Oranje is still able to qualify for the
World Cup in Japan and South Korea. But all of the remaining games must
be won, and especially the crucial clash against the Irish. Grandpa and
grandma hope and expect this will happen. Maybe a fully-recovered Ruud
van Nistelrooy will help the Dutch cause in the next few games. His grandparents
are counting on it.
Coming soon: Rivaldo's mother-in-law
A History of Dutch Football
by David Winner