Gary Neville has recalled the day Sir Alex Ferguson blew his top at Ruud van Nistelrooy when the former Manchester United striker swapped shirts with a rival.
It was a watershed moment in the reign of the legendary manager, who was so incensed that from that point on he banned his players from swapping shirts after domestic games.
Van Nistelrooy was a prolific scorer during his five years with United, netting 150 goals in 219 appearances.
Ferguson was furious when, after a 3-1 defeat to Manchester City at Maine Road in 2002, he saw Van Nistelrooy heading back to the away dressing room wearing the shirt of United's derby rivals.
Neville, Van Nistelrooy's team-mate at the time, said Fergie was so angry with the striker he threatened to bring fans into the changing room and let them have their say.
“I always remember, after that game Ruud van Nistelrooy had swapped shirts with a City player,” Neville said on the Quickly Kevin, Will He Score? podcast.
“The City player had come up to him and swapped shirts.
“He [Ferguson] said, ‘You do not give away one of those shirts. They’re my shirts. They’re this club’s shirts, they’re not your shirts. You’re just wearing them temporarily. That’s not your possession to give away'.
“He stopped us swapping shirts in domestic games.
“I think he said after that game, ‘I should let the fans in here. I should let the fans come in here and speak to you.'”
Van Nistelrooy's relationship with Ferguson soured during the Dutchman's final season at Old Trafford.
After United's 4-0 win over Wigan in the 2006 League Cup final, the striker criticised his manager for his choice of substitutions.
Van Nistelrooy also began rowing with team-mates during training, and in July of that year he left for Real Madrid.
And Ferguson has recalled how, four years later, Van Nistelrooy contacted his former boss out of the blue to apologise.
In quotes cited by Pundit Arena, Ferguson said: “My phone beeped with a text message. ‘I don’t know whether you remember me,’ it started, ‘but I need to call you.’
“I had no idea what it might be. But I texted him back: OK. So he rang. First, the small talk. Had some injuries, fit now, not getting a game, blah blah. Then he came out with it. ‘I want to apologise for my behaviour in my last year at United.’"
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