Former Manchester United striker Ruud van Nistelrooy has recalled his famous clash with former Arsenal defender Martin Keown, in 2003. It became known as the Battle of Old Trafford.
It got heated when Arsenal came to Old Trafford during the 2003-04 season, and towards the end of the match, Van Nistelrooy missed a crucial penalty before Keown screamed at the Dutchman like a misbehaving child.
Van Nistelrooy hit the crossbar with his penalty, which sparked wild celebrations from the Arsenal players. Keown shouted and jumped all over Van Nistelrooy which led to a mass brawl between both sets of players.
As a result, Patrick Vieria was sent off and 8 players were charged with improper conduct by the FA.
We are absolutely shocked to read quotes from Van Nistelrooy stating that Keown is the “nicest man” to meet off the pitch, especially when he’s equally annoying nowadays as a pundit on TV.
Van Nistelrooy recalled the clash on the official Manchester United podcast: “That afternoon ignited sort of the… that was more personal towards me I recall. That day and that afternoon, with the penalty miss and the red card and after the game incidents. It made it all go ballistic a little bit.
“It was a great image of him [Keown] flying above me but the thing is that he is actually the nicest man you’ll meet outside a football pitch.
“Yeah, I couldn’t care less, I was just so sick of the penalty miss.
“It was 0-0 for God’s sake, you know, in the last minute against Arsenal… it was a huge penalty and I smacked it off the crossbar and I didn’t win the game for the club and for the team.
“Obviously, with the sending off and the end being… Of course, the Arsenal players were still unbeaten because of that also.
“That reaction was also there. It went to me because of the yellow card of Vieira. I was just running inside to sit in the corner of the dressing room.”
Meh. We’re not convinced that Keown is Mr. Nice Guy.