Sir Alex Ferguson told player, ‘you’ll never play for Man United again’ for swapping shirts after derby defeat

A scathing Sir Alex Ferguson “destroyed” Ruud van Nistelrooy after the striker swapped shirts with a Manchester City player following a derby defeat, Rio Ferdinand has recalled.

In Ferdinand’s first derby as a United player following his £30 million move from Leeds, the Red Devils were beaten 3-1 in the last City-United fixture at Maine Road.

Shaun Goater struck twice, with Nicolas Anelka also on target. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer netted United’s goal but it was his strike partner who courted controversy after the game.

Image credit: PA
Image credit: PA

Van Nistelrooy walked into the dressing room with a City shirt and even though United were top dogs in Manchester by a long way, Ferguson lost it after the loss.

“We got beat 3-1 at Maine Road with Shaun Goater scoring two goals,” Ferdinand recalled on his latest Rio Ferdinand Presents FIVE episode featuring 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.

“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 was United’s main man up top at the time but that didn’t stop Ferguson from giving a dressing down.

Image credit: PA
Image credit: PA

Van Nistelrooy scored in the return fixture at Old Trafford but Goater, on as a substitute, salvaged a point for City with a late header.

In five seasons at United, Van Nistelrooy scored 150 goals in 219 appearances for the club before joining Real Madrid.