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Sir Alex Ferguson told player 'you'll never play for Man Utd again' for swapping shirts after derby defeat

Josh Lawless

| Last updated 

Sir Alex Ferguson told player 'you'll never play for Man Utd again' for swapping shirts after derby defeat

Sir Alex Ferguson 'destroyed' one of his Manchester United players for swapping shirts with a Manchester City opponent in the wake of a derby defeat, according to Rio Ferdinand.

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 back in 2002.

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.

Ruud 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.


"We got beat 3-1 at Maine Road with Shaun Goater scoring two goals," Ferdinand recalled on an episode of Rio Ferdinand Presents FIVE.


"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 him a dressing down.

According to former United captain Gary Neville, Ferguson stopped his players from swapping shirts in domestic games as a result.

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 before joining Real Madrid.


He and Ferguson butted heads in his final days at United and in 2011, Van Nistelrooy revealed he went out of his way to apologise to the Scotsman for his behaviour.

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Featured Image Credit: Getty

Topics: Sir Alex Ferguson, Football, Premier League, Manchester City, Manchester United

Josh Lawless
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