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Van Nistelrooy meets with fans

Ismail Vorajee / Khmer Times Share:
Ruud van Nistelrooy stands behind the UEFA Champions League trophy. KT/Jean-Francois Perigois

Legendary Dutch striker Ruud van Nistelrooy, wrapped up the UEFA Champions League Trophy tour presented by Heineken at Phnom Penh’s City Hall, Koh Pich yesterday allowing fans here a final glimpse of the famed UEFA Champions League trophy before its next stop.

The occasion marks the first time club football’s most prestigious trophy has reached Cambodian shores as well as van Nistelrooy’s first visit to the kingdom.

Van Nistelrooy, who landed for a three-day tour on Monday and is serving as brand ambassador for Heineken, met with his many Cambodian football fans, signing football shirts, and taking pictures. He also got in between the sticks as goalkeeper during Tuesday’s football clinic with fans. The tall striker, well regarded for his predatory goalscoring exploits, was less impressive in goal as Cambodian youngsters fired a volley of strikes into the back of the net.

Van Nistelrooy, who ended his playing career at Malaga in 2012 and is currently manager of the PSV Eindhoven youth team, had revealed that a large part of what drew him to the tour was the ability to impart his deep footballing knowledge on young players.

Away from the pitch, fans were able to get up close with numerous UEFA Champions League match memorabilia. Some of the notable items on display included Lionel Messi’s shirt from the 2009 between Barcelona and Manchester United, the full kit of Spanish goalkeeper Iker Casillas from the 2015 final between Real Madrid and Atletico de Madrid, a signed Manchester United shirt from their legendary 1999 final win over Bayern Munich, and the shirt of Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard.

Ruud Van Nistelrooy plays table football with fans at Koh Pich.KT/Jean-Francois Perigois

Despite keeping busy with his ambassadorial duties here in Cambodia, the Dutchman was able to find some time away to congratulate former teammate Cristiano Ronaldo.

Ronaldo put in a phenomenal performance on Tuesday night as his Real Madrid put three unanswered strikes past Italian giants Juventus 3-0 in the Champions League, with the Portuguese attacker bagging two goals in the process. Ronaldo scored his 13th and 14th goals in the competition this season to take his career Champions League tally to 119 in European football’s premier tournament.

Ronaldo – with 10 consecutive goals in Champions League games – also set a new record. van Nistelrooy was the previous record holder having scored in nine straight Champions League matches.

Van Nistelrooy congratulated his former Manchester United colleague on his accomplishment with a Twitter post: ‘Records are there to be broken, even if they are your own.. ‘Well done @Cristiano! Respect.’

Heineken Cambodia competed with over 192 countries for the chance to host the UEFA Champions League Trophy Tour. Due to huge local support for the UEFA Champions League and with Cambodia’s fast-developing economy as well as its spectacular areas of natural beauty, the country was seen as a perfect candidate for UEFA Champions League Trophy Tour.

In its eleven-year history, the tour has reached 26 countries across Africa, Asia, North and South America. Mexico, Ivory Coast, Paraguay, Malaysia and Ethiopia are the other five nations selected to receive the trophy.

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