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Monday, 15 April, 2002, 05:13 GMT 06:13 UK
Players honour Van Nistelrooy
Roy Keane and Ruud van Nistelrooy celebrate the latter's goal against Deportivo la Coruna
Van Nistelrooy (right) has been pivotal for United
Ruud van Nistelrooy has been named as the Professional Footballers' Association Players' Player of the Year.

Manchester United's Dutch striker, who has scored 33 goals in all competitions this season, immediately hailed it as the proudest moment of his career.


The Premier League is the best league in Europe at the moment
Ruud van Nistelrooy

Newcastle striker Craig Bellamy was voted the PFA's Young Player of the Year ahead of Bolton's Michael Ricketts and Liverpool's Steven Gerrard.

Van Nistelrooy received the award from Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier, the PFA's guest of honour, at London's Grosvenor House Hotel on Sunday.

He came out ahead of Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Thierry Henry, Robert Pires, David Beckham and Roy Keane after PFA members voted for their top player this season.

Henry came second while Arsenal team-mate Pires was third.

Van Nistelrooy admitted he was overjoyed just to be playing at the highest level after overcoming a career-threatening knee injury to finally move to Old Trafford last summer.

Van Nistelrooy became the second successive United striker to pick up the award - following in the footsteps of Teddy Sheringham last year - and afterwards spoke of his pride.

He said: "This is the proudest moment so far in my career. I have been voted by the players of the Premier League and that is the best league in Europe at the moment.

"Playing for Manchester United is a fantastic feeling but then again so is just playing because when I was injured there were doubts I would play again."

One of the highlights of a fantastic season for the Dutchman was becoming the first player to score in eight consecutive Premiership matches.

Robert Pires and Thierry Henry celebrate a goal for Arsenal
Van Nistelrooy pipped Pires and Henry to win

"That was a great run and the nicest thing was that United won all eight of those games to put ourselves back in contention for the title.

"That was very special for me," he added.

Van Nistelrooy, who has won this honour twice in his home country, claims he will not be able to break Denis Law's United record of 46 goals in 40 games, set in 1963-64.

Despite scoring 32 goals so far this season, he said: "I've heard a lot about Denis and have seen a lot of videos of him.

"I have not met him yet but he is still at United and it is one of my aims to meet him. I'm looking forward to that.

"But I don't think his record will ever be broken - it's such a great amount of goals."

 VOTE RESULTS
Is Ruud van Nistelrooy the right choice?

Yes
 63.64% 

No
 36.36% 

12357 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion
Who are the best players of 2001/02?

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See also:

29 Apr 01 |  Football
Sheringham wins second award
20 Apr 01 |  Eng Prem
PFA's six of the best
15 Apr 02 |  FA Cup
Ranieri spurs on Chelsea
14 Apr 02 |  FA Cup
Wenger praises Arsenal spirit
15 Apr 02 |  Eng Prem
PFA's Premiership XI
15 Apr 02 |  World Cup 2002
Keown's England call
15 Apr 02 |  Football
PFA honours red-hot Ruud
Links to more Eng Prem stories are at the foot of the page.

 

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