Ruud van Nistelrooy has revealed how Sir Alex Ferguson blocked him from winning the Premier League Golden Boot after Man Utd missed out on the Premier League title.
The Red Devils were looking to win their fourth title in a row but missed out as Arsenal claimed their second Premier League crown under Arsene Wenger.
Although United finished seven points behind the Gunners in the league, Van Nistelrooy remained in the hunt for the Golden Boot until the final game of the season
The Dutchman was two goals ahead of Thierry Henry heading into the final matchday, but remarkably was dropped for United's last match against Charlton.
Van Nistelrooy has now claimed Ferguson dropped him on purpose against the Addicks to ensure Henry had a chance of beating his striker to the award.
Speaking to Rio Ferdinand's Vibe with Five podcast, he said: "Thierry was doing stuff in the Premiership when I was at PSV. That was hard stuff! I want to compete with him to push myself.
"Alan Shearer was obviously up there in the top flight for the Golden Boot. First year I was challenging that.
"But the gaffer [Sir Alex Ferguson] left me out in the last game of the season. He said, ‘you’re not challenging for the Golden Boot, we didn’t win the league son, you’re out’.
"He left me on the stands man, not even on the bench. I didn’t even have a hope! ‘ was up there and was thinking that was a game I could get a few. One more goal!"
Van Nistelrooy acknowledged that although the decision was frustrating at the time, it made him a better player in the longer run.
"He made me sharp, in that moment," he continued.
"No trophies that year so that message, ‘your goals, fine, they help us but you need to connect it to titles’. That was the message.
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"It was clear in my head when he left me in the stands that I was already starting the new season.
"When the manager said something it was clear. He just explained it to me like that.
"I was sitting there watching the game checking if Thierry scored. He wanted to get me fired up for the next season. I wanted to keep up with Thierry.’
Henry scored twice in Arsenal's final league match against Everton to lift the Golden Boot by a single goal from Van Nistelrooy, Alan Shearer and Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink.
Van Nistelrooy returned the following season to win the award with 25 goals as United reclaimed the Premier League title.
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