News that Gary Neville has announced his retirement has been met with a huge sigh of relief by many United fans. There’s nothing worse than seeing one of your idols become something of a liability which is what Neville has become in his rare appearances this season.
Neville has been a true legend for The Reds and was instrumental in United’s dominance during the nineties and noughties, making over 600 appearances and winning every major honour there is in the game.
People have been waxing lyrical about Patrice Evra recently, yet for me Gary Neville was every bit as good in his heyday, getting forward well linking up with, Andrei Kanchelskis, David Beckham- then Cristiano Ronaldo. He was also excellent in defence, the timing of his tackles and his all-round energy enabling him to cope with practically any left winger in the world.
Neville’s probably as famous for his off-field comments and antics as he is for any of many achievements. Here’s my personal top five non-footballing Neville moments.
5. Ignoring Schmeichel– Despite spending around five years playing together and winning the treble in their final game Neville showed Peter Schmeichel the contempt his move to Manchester City arguably deserved by refusing to shake his hand in the tunnel before the Manchester derby. Hilarious.
4. That celebration against Liverpool. Neville’s celebration in front of the scousers following a last minute winner by Rio Ferdinand in 2006. Never has badge kissing looked more appropriate.
3. Comforting John Terry. No this isn’t an excuse to watch the Champion’s League Final 2008- well okay maybe it is a little bit. No, to be fair Neville will always be the panto villain for opposition fans, yet many forget that during the celebrations in Moscow, Neville spent a good few minutes consoling the distraught Terry. His words may have been futile but at least his actions showed a bit of class.
2. Giving Tevez the finger. Neville often acts like any other United fan and there was no denying that had it been any of us playing against Tevez we would have done more than just given him the bird. Neville wasn’t actually playing either but still managed to grab a few headlines by first claiming Tevez wasn’t worth keeping at Old Trafford, then giving him the finger during the Carling Cup semi-final first leg. We may have rolled our eyes but deep down we all laughed.
1. Winding up Vieira in the tunnel. One of my favourite Roy Keane moments was when he went for Patrick Vieira before the game against Arsenal back in 2005. Who was at the centre of the row? Gary Neville.
Neville then acted like a little guy who knows he’s got a big guy to stick up for him, by holding Vieira’s hand a little longer than normal in the pre-match handshake. Some would call it sad- I’d say it’s hysterical.
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