Ruud van Nistelrooy admitted he was ready to "begin a new stage of my life" after the 35-year-old Málaga CF forward announced his retirement from football at a specially organised press conference at La Rosaleda.
The former Dutch international said he could not have chosen a more fitting moment to hang up his boots after helping the Liga side gain a fourth-place finish and, with it, a UEFA Champions League play-off spot next term. "My great dream was to play in the UEFA Champions League with Málaga, but I feel the time has come to say goodbye," said Van Nistelrooy.
After joining Málaga last summer, Van Nistelrooy made 28 league appearances – ten of them starts – and scored four goals. A late substitute in Sunday's 1-0 victory against Real Sporting de Gijón, he added: "Yesterday's game was my last as a professional as I have reached my physical limits. There couldn't be a better way or a better moment for me to say goodbye."
Van Nistelrooy began his career at FC Den Bosch and went on to become one of European football's most prolific strikers, registering 60 UEFA Champions League goals in 81 appearances with PSV Eindhoven, Manchester United FC and Real Madrid CF, clubs where he also won domestic league titles.
In 449 league appearances overall, he struck 249 goals, as well as hitting 34 in 70 international outings for the Netherlands, the last of which came in March of last year in a UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying win against Hungary.
"I am leaving the game on happy terms, above all because it is a decision [that wasn't forced on me]," he said. "I want to thank everyone at Málaga but
I would also like to extend my appreciation to the fans of my other former clubs – Den Bosch, Heerenveen, PSV, Manchester United, Real Madrid, Hamburg and also to the supporters of the Dutch national team."
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