Holland’s top goal scorer Ruud van Nistelrooij is to resign from the national football team to focus on his club career with Real Madrid.
In an unexpected announcement on Monday evening, striker Van Nistelrooij (32) told the press he had thought long and hard about his decision to stop playing for Oranje.
‘Naturally I didn’t make this decision in one day. I enjoyed the European Championships [earlier this summer] and will look back on that with pleasure.’
‘But after studying the schedule for Real Madrid and the Dutch national team I realised that I had to make a choice because of the physical effort needed to perform at this top level. The combination of competition, cup and the Champions League on one side for Real Madrid and the schedule of the Dutch team on the other is too heavy for me. That means I had no other choice,’ said Van Nistelrooij.
The new national coach Bert van Marwijk said he was surprised at the news but said he had spoken at length with Van Nistelrooij and respected his decision. ‘Of course I regret that I won’t be able to call on his qualities and international experience when putting together the national team,’ he told reporters.
Sports commentators agree it will be hard to replace Van Nistelrooij who has scored 33 goals in 64 matches for the national team, way ahead of Rafael van der Vaart who is in second place with 12. Van Nistelrooij played his first international match in 1998 against Germany.
The national team’s first match under their new coach Van Marwijk is on August 20 when they play Russia. On September 10 they will play Macedonia in the first of the qualifying rounds for the World Championships in 2010.
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