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Ruud Van Nistelrooy sparks controversy after 'blacking up'

Ruud Van Nistelrooy posted pictures of him dressed as King Balthazar on Twitter. Photo: Twitter / Ruud Van Nistelrooy

Ruud Van Nistelrooy has sparked controversy after 'blacking-up' for a Spanish parade.

The former Manchester United striker was taking part in the Parade of the Three Kings in Marbella, Spain, where he visited a hospital and gave presents to staff and patients.

The retired Dutch footballer was dressed as Middle Eastern King Balthazar and wore a long gown and head dress.

Van Nistelrooy meets a man in the hospital he visited. Credit: Twitter / Ruud Van Nistelrooy

Van Nistelrooy's choice of make-up caused a mixed reaction on Twitter.

The Parade of the Three Kings is held annually in Spain and celebrates the end of the festive season.

Ruud Van Nistelrooy during his Manchester United playing days. Picture from 2006. Credit: Nick Potts/PA Archive

Dressing up as the three kings is popular in Spain and Balthazar, one of the kings, is historically portrayed as a black man.