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By ESPN Staff

Van Nistelrooy vows to fight back after knee woe

Ruud van Nistelrooy has vowed to fight back from the career-threatening knee injury that has sidelined him for the rest of the season at least.

The Real Madrid striker underwent surgery on his right knee on Wednesday in the United States and will focus all his energy on his rehabilitation.

''This is one of the most difficult moments in my career,'' the 32-year-old said in an interview with Marca.

''It's pretty tough to be told that I will not return to play until the start of next season, that I will be sidelined for eight or nine months. But I have two options, give up or fight. I know I need to fight and my battle has just began.''

The former Manchester United star suffered the injury during last week's 2-0 defeat against Juventus in the Champions League.

The knee is the same one that acclaimed specialist Dr Richard Steadman operated on in 2000 when Van Nistelrooy suffered ligament damage while at PSV Eindhoven.

''I had no other option but to undergo surgery,'' he said. ''The injury was a serious one. I've gone to the best knee surgeon.

''He has done the some operation to American football players, basketball players and they always come out well. He told me that I will return to play and I will return to play.''

Some have already suggested that Van Nistelrooy will struggle to reach peak condition again at this stage of his career, but the Holland international is determined to prove his doubters wrong.

''It's true that I'm 32,'' he said. ''But eight years ago I went through a similar situation as this one and I know what I have to do. I want to return to top form and be the player I was before.

''I have lots of goals left to score for Madrid and many aims yet to achieve. I still have a Champions League yet to win and I will give everything to win it.

''The recovery will be very hard but no-one should doubt that I will overcome this.''

Van Nistelrooy has received plenty of support from Madrid fans and has pledged to reward them again with his goals in the future.

''I will work very hard for the Madrid fans,'' he said. ''I will recover to play for the Madrid short and reward the fans4trust. Just like my trip to Colorado (for the surgery), now I now face another long trip ahead. But I will return.''

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