Wed | Sep 19, 2018

Van Nistelrooy points to education

Published:Thursday | March 23, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Ruud Van Nistelrooy (left) signs autographs for Keen Curtis (right) and Kareem Harris, members of the Prodigy team, during a Football Factory workshop yesterday.

Former Manchester United and Real Madrid striker, Ruud Van Nistelrooy, told young local footballers yesterday that a good education is a key element to becoming a top professional.

The ace goalscorer is in the island as a Heineken ambassador on a three-day Champions League trophy tour.

"One of the most important things I tell the players I train is that school is number one, and if they are doing well in school, they can play on my team," he said.

He added that the discipline needed to do well in school is also important to perform well as a young professional player.

"It is also something you need later in your professional life, so we put emphasis on doing those things (education and discipline)," he said.

Van Nistelrooy said coaches looking to develop young goalscorers should focus on getting movement off the ball right and getting them to know how to make the best use of space.

"It's important to get players aware of spaces to move into. Using video systems where you can sit with the players and go over their movement in games is a great asset in helping me to get them aware of the spaces," he said.

Earlier in the day, the former Old Trafford favourite hosted a football workshop with members of the UWI Rooster team, that won the UWI Heineken five-a-side tournament and Prodigy, who topped the skill challenge at the Indoor Centre on Tuesday. Both captains said getting the opportunity to play with the legend was a 'once in a lifetime experience'.

"When we heard about the five-vs-five competition and that we could meet Van Nistelrooy and view the official Champions League trophy, it was more than enough motivation and we played our hearts out just to see the Manchester United, Real Madrid legend ... so it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience," Alaine Messam, the Rooster captain said.

Keen Curtis of Prodigy was overjoyed to be sharing the same field with such a legend of the game.

"We went into the skill challenge at Indoor Centre and came out on top. It was a pleasure kicking it with Ruud. We couldn't find words; it was awesome," Curtis said.

- L.S.