Ferdinand: Ferguson 'DESTROYED' Van Nistelrooy after 2002 City defeat

Rio Ferdinand reveals how Sir Alex Ferguson ‘destroyed’ Ruud van Nistelrooy in a dressing room rant, telling him: ‘You’ll never play for Man United’ – after he entered with a Man City shirt following a loss

  • Manchester United lost 3-1 at City in the Premier League in November 2002
  • The defeat was Rio Ferdinand’s first Manchester derby as a United player
  • United legend Ruud van Nistelrooy angered Sir Alex Ferguson with his action
  • Ferdinand says that when he knew how important this fixture was to everyone
  • READ: Vincent Kompany opens up on ‘MAD’ spell as Anderlecht player-manager 

Sir Alex Ferguson was known for his ‘hairdryer’ treatment of players from time-to-time and Rio Ferdinand has revealed that seeing it on full blast at Ruud van Nistelrooy quickly made him realise the significance of the Manchester derby.

Ferdinand signed for Manchester United in July 2002 from Leeds United in a £30million deal – a then British-record. And just four months later he got his first taste of a Manchester derby as United travelled to local rivals Manchester City.

However, his derby debut didn’t go to plan as Ferguson’s side were swept aside 3-1 at Maine Road – with Shaun Goater scoring twice in the victory.

Sir Alex Ferguson (left) once ‘destroyed’ Ruud van Nistelrooy after losing a Manchester derby

Ferguson was incensed that Van Nistelrooy walked in with a City shirt after United’s 3-1 defeat

United legend Rio Ferdinand recalls the incident made him realise the importance of the derby


But despite the pain of the defeat, it wasn’t until Ferdinand got into the supposed sanctuary of the changing rooms that he witnessed at first-hand what the derby should represent to United.

Reflecting on one incident, Ferdinand recalls Van Nistelrooy’s appearance with a City shirt in his hand that sent Ferguson over the edge.

‘We got beat 3-1 at Maine Road with Shaun Goater scoring two goals,’ he told his Rio Ferdinand Presents FIVE YouTube channel during an interview with City legend Vincent Kompany.


‘That was the first derby I played and the moment I realised how big it was was in the changing room after.

‘We walked in and the manager shut the door. It was quiet and then all of a sudden he just erupted.

Ferdinand (left) was making his Manchester derby debut as Shaun Goater scored twice for City

‘Ruud van Nistelrooy, who was the God then, walked in with a City shirt in his hand and I remember Sir Alex Ferguson just absolutely unloaded on him. He destroyed him saying “if I ever see any of you walking with a City shirt ever again you’ll never play for this club”.

‘That’s how he was, he was just mad. That’s when I sat there and thought “this is a big game, isn’t it”.

‘I didn’t realise before that game and ever since then, whether you win more or less, I knew that week leading up to a derby was all or nothing.’

Van Nistelrooy did atone for that faux pas in the return fixture in February by scoring at Old Trafford but Goater’s 86th-minute header saw City earn a 1-1 draw – a fixture that Ferdinand was also a part of.

He was speaking about Manchester derby memories with City icon Vincent Kompany (far left)

Goater was United’s nemesis during the 2002-03 season, earning City a point at United too

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