Football

Ruud van Nistelrooy talks about that Martin Keown moment

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It is probably the most infamous moment in Arsenal's Premier League history and those lucky enough to be there still look back on the events of that day as fondly as any FA Cup or Premier League triumph. It even has its own Wikipedia page.

It was the 2003/04 season and the rivalry between the Gunners and Manchester United was at its peak. The games were intense and usually came with as many red cards as goals. The Battle of Old Trafford, as it has been coined, represents the pinnacle of the war.

Arsenal had ground their way to a 0-0 draw with only one minute left before referee Steve Bennett awarded the home team a penalty. Ruud van Nistelrooy stepped up as the club's specialist spot-kick taker.

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Martin Keown had already confronted the Dutchman over a previous incident with Patrick Vieira, which had led to the Arsenal captain receiving a second bookable offence. Van Nistelrooy jumped onto Vieira's back during an aerial battle in the 80th minute and the Frenchman kicked out.

But as any Arsenal fan will tell you, it was their team who would get the last laugh with Van Nistelrooy crashing the penalty against the crossbar, which is reportedly still shaking just a little bit.

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Following the final whistle, Keown ran over the Van Nistelrooy to tell him exactly how happy he was that he had missed that penalty and the rest is history.

Then it went crazy

Speaking at the Oxford Union last night, Van Nistelrooy opened up on the incident. He was told Keown lives in Oxford and his response was pretty funny.

"Really?", he said in the interview. "He'll probably be jumping all over me!

"That game was incredible. It was this unbeaten Arsenal side, a last minute penalty and I hit the bar. Then it went crazy, loads happened.

"The truth is, I wasn't aware because I was so gutted about missing the penalty. I couldn't care less what they were doing. I was in shock, thinking 'I missed, I missed'. Patrick Vieira was sent off, he was waiting in the tunnel but I couldn't care less. I walked past him.

"I barely ever missed. I was in the dressing room and trying to analyse what I did wrong. I took it too quickly. In those big moments, you have to take more care. I didn't settle and focus. I think Arsenal were a little obsessed with United at the time and with me.

"I was never as involved with them as they were with me. There was always big build-up and media talk but on the pitch, I kept my calm usually. I don't have a problem with them. I miss the rivalry of course."

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Topics:
Premier League
Arsenal
Ruud van Nistelrooy
Manchester United
Martin Keown
Football

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