Ruud van Nistelrooy revealed he could not have imagined enjoying coaching more than playing but in his first week as PSV Eindhoven boss, insisted the responsibility of match preparation and coaching has "hooked" him.
A decade removed from his last playing stint at Malaga, the 45-year-old confirmed a first senior coaching role with his former club in March, after roles in their youth categories and as assistant for the Netherlands national team.
Taking over from Roger Schmidt, whose side took Ajax to the final day of the Eredivisie season last term, Van Nistelrooy has been given three seasons to supplant the Amsterdam club's domestic dominance in the Netherlands.
In the first week of pre-season, the former Netherlands international asserted he was fully committed to preparing for this first senior role and can now only see himself as a football coach, despite initially different sentiments.
"Never. I could not have imagined it, and if they had told me when I was playing football I wouldn't have believed it," Van Nistelrooy told Marca. "Time passes, and the truth is that I could not imagine a life without football. When I left I began to think about what to do and I wanted to continue to be linked to football.
"It was necessary to see in what area and the reality is that I began to study, to train myself and I noticed that each day that passed, I had more enthusiasm. Then I started working in lower categories, with young players and I really liked that work. That is what has brought me here with such enthusiasm.
"Training is something that hooked me. It is an interesting process that I have lived to get here. Logically, I still have to take many steps, but I am excited about the opportunity that PSV gives me, which is a club in which I played, in which I feel at home, very identified."
The journey has started— Ruud van Nistelrooij (@RvN1776) June 20, 2022
Let's have a great season together! @PSV pic.twitter.com/oMtuK8LNo3
Van Nistelrooy had a variety of coaches during his professional playing days and under varied styles, from the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson, to Fabio Capello, Bernd Schuster and Manuel Pellegrini, playing under the latter at both Real Madrid and Malaga.
The PSV boss asserted he remains deeply rooted in the Dutch way of football, however, and his setup in Eindhoven will ultimately reflect his own interpretation of what he learned under the likes of Louis van Gaal and Guus Hiddink.
"What I could see in my time as a footballer is that there are coaches who had more influence than others in the game and in the team. That's normal," he said. "I've had coaches like Ferguson, Pellegrini or Van Gaal, from whom I think I can take a lot of things. I also really like the school in my country, the Dutch school, that way of understanding football and the game goes a lot with my idea.
"My system is a 4-3-3. I like to play with a six and with two midfielders who go up, with an eight and a 10, let's say. And then two wide wingers. Logically, it all depends on the players you have, on their characteristics. Then you always have to make modifications, adaptations, but my idea of the game is that."
He added, however, that any ambition he has as a senior coach can only exist with success at PSV.
"My head is only at PSV, I just started here," Van Nistelrooy said. "I have trained very well here and I have signed a contract for the next three years.
"The project that both the club and I have in mind is long-term, as long as things go the way we think they will. I want to build something beautiful and important here, with a good project, with young and quality players."