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Gary Lineker sparked fierce backlash from furious fans after ‘controversy’ over one incredible Man Utd legend

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Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker has recalled the time he landed himself in hot water with Manchester United fans over his comments about Ruud van Nistelrooy.

Ruud van Nistelrooy was a fan favourite during his time at Old Trafford and the Dutchman had a sensational impact during his spell at Manchester United.

The 47-year-old former United striker was landed from PSV Eindhoven in 2001 after he was signed for a British record transfer fee of £19m at the time.

Van Nistelrooy was a ruthless finisher in the final third and the United legend scored a whopping 150 times in 219 appearances under former manager Sir Alex Ferguson.

The ex-Netherlands international lifted a Premier League title, an FA Cup and a League Cup, with Van Nistelrooy still held in high regard by his former teammates.

Van Nistelrooy’s five seasons at Old Trafford came to an end in 2006 after his relationship with legendary former United manager Sir Alex Ferguson fractured.

The United legend went on to sign for Real Madrid and had a successful spell with Los Blancos, with Van Nistelrooy lifting two La Liga titles with the Spanish club.

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BBC Broadcaster and former England international Gary Lineker with supporters before the UEFA Europa League 2023/24 final match between Atalanta BC...

Photo by Stephen McCarthy – Sportsfile/UEFA via Getty Images

What did Lineker say about Van Nistelrooy?

Ruud van Nistelrooy, who played for Hamburg and Malaga before he retired in 2012, took his first steps into coaching and management after his playing career.

The Dutchman was appointed PSV Eindhoven manager in 2022 and led the club to the Dutch Cup in his debut season as head coach.

However, Van Nistelrooy resigned from his post in 2023 and the Manchester United legend has not returned to management since his spell with PSV.

Gary Lineker was speaking with Premier League legend Alan Shearer when he recalled his controversial remarks involving Van Nistelrooy.

The 63-year-old Match of the Day host admitted that he made a criticism of Van Nistelrooy’s physical appearance during a post-match interview.

Speaking on The Rest Is Football podcast, Lineker said: “Talking about long-faced ones, the one time I got into a bit of controversy [about] something I said on telly.

“Do you remember Ruud van Nistelrooy had a long [face], you know those post-match interviews that we show just before we come onto analysis, he came on and in this particular shot, it looked like [he had] the head of a horse.”

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Lineker said that he was forced to walk back on his comments after the fierce backlash he received from United fans.

The ex-England and Tottenham striker took a swipe at Van Nistelrooy for how he looked after the match, with Lineker subsequently getting “so much stick” from fans.

Lineker admitted that he apologised after the remarks he made about Van Nistelrooy during his work on TV.

“They just won a game and he didn’t seem very happy, so I just said, ‘Come on, Ruud, why the long face,’ and I got so much stick from Man United fans, I apologised,” he said.

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