Now Neville can do his talking off the pitch

by admin

Sunday, February 6th, 2011

In an age where footballers seem to care more about their wage packet, loyalty is often overlooked.

Gary Neville, 35, hung up his boots on Wednesday as he called time on an extraordinary 19 years playing for the club he has always cherished, Manchester United.

His loyalty to United was unwavering and his professionalism on the pitch and dedication to the cause, won the affections of both team-mates and fans alike.

This was in full view when he refused to shake the hand of the great Dane, Peter Schmeichel, when he crossed the red-blue divide from Manchester United to Manchester City.

Neville’s time at United proved to be highly productive, as he collected eight Premier League titles, a Champions League winner’s medal, three FA Cups and two League Cups. Incidentally, all of these were won alongside Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs, who like Neville, rose through the ranks of the United academy system.

Yet despite all the praise lavished on Neville by both the press and his manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, he had a propensity for stirring trouble.

Neville’s run-ins with the FA are well documented. He was reprimanded for his behaviour in 2006 after he goaded Liverpool fans when Manchester United won 1-0 at Old Trafford.

Last season, the defender disgraced himself by sticking a finger up at former United hit-man Carlos Tevez during the first-leg of Manchester United’s Carling Cup semi-final tie at bitter rivals Manchester City.

But his career was ultimately blighted by injuries. The ankle break he sustained against Bolton in 2007 culminated in a series of other niggling injuries that ultimately limited his influence on the United side.

Nevertheless he was arguably the greatest English right-back to have played in the Premier League, and he excelled on the international stage, earning 85 caps for his country.

After the recent departure of Richard Keys from Sky Sports, there were wild rumours flying around that Neville might present Ford Super Sunday.

There may even be space for Neville to squeeze himself in between messrs Lawrenson and Hansen on the Match of the Day sofa, but the United-Liverpool acrimony could prove to be too much for Gary Lineker to handle!

He has always been forthright in his views, and a capacity within broadcasting is not completely out of the question- fans would probably love to see Neville launch into a debate with the same ferocity he would with his challenges.

What is clear to point out from the outset, is that Neville is no saint, but his contribution to football is far from over.

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  • Big Fidge

    He has many detractors, but the way he has quit is very telling.
    He wasn’t out of contract, he could have stayed for the remainder of the season and picked up his cheque each week and gone through the motions.
    However, he has decided off his own back that he’s not up to the job of Premier League football, doesn’t want to drop down divisions and so has hung up his boots.
    I think, rather than the comfort of the Sky or MOTD sofa, he should serve an apprenticeship under Sir Alex and then dip into the world of management.

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