Gary Neville has decided to retire with immediate effect and leaves behind him a footballing career spanning 20 years at one club, Manchester United where he won 8 Premier League titles, 3 FA Cups, 2 League Cups, 1 Champions League, 1 Intercontinental Cup, 1 FIFA Club World Cup and 3 FA Community Cups.
This season he has only made 3 appearances, but that meant that he reached a landmark figure of 400 League appearances for Manchester United, but overall he has run out for United a total of 602 times, 117 of those in European competition, and becomes the 5th most played player in United history.
With the announcement of his retirement this was said.
“I have been a Manchester United fan all my life and fulfilled every dream I’ve ever had. Obviously I am disappointed that my playing days are at an end, however it comes to us all, and it’s knowing when that time is and for me that time is now”
Gary Neville, Manchester United – 1991-2011
He signed for United in 1991 as an apprentice and was apart of the youth team at United which consisted of Robbie Savage, Keith Gillespie, Nicky Butt, Paul Scholes, David Beckham and Ryan Giggs. He captained the team that won the FA youth Cup in 1992 beating Crystal Palace 6-3. [The 1992 line-up was Kevin Pilkington; John O’kane, George Switzer, Chris Casper, Gary Neville (c); David Beckham, Nicky Butt, Simon Davies, Ben Thornley; Colin McKee, Robbie Savage. Subs; Giggs, Gillespie, Joe Roberts and Leonard Taylor]
Some of that team didn’t stay at United, and some didn’t keep at top flight football. Robbie Savage never played a senior game for United and Gillespie made a handful of appearances for the senior team before he moved to Newcastle that saw Andy Cole move the other way in the deal.
Gary Neville made his senior debut for United in September 1992 against Torpedo Moscow in the UEFA Cup, but it wasn’t until the 94–95’ when Paul Parker was ruled out by injury, that he and Denis Irwin, who was switched to right back with Lee Sharpe filling the left back role, fought for the position. Gary eventually won it, and Irwin went back to his left-back position. The 95-96’ season saw him play his first full season and from then he never stopped until the 2007- 2008 season when he was ruled out all season due to injury only making 1 appearance against Roma in the Champions League coming on for the last 10 minutes.
Through his career he has played behind some of the worlds best right-midfielders like Cristiano Ronaldo, but never did he have a better partnership than when he was playing with David Beckham. A combination that worked just as well for England as it did for United. Beckham, also apart of that United youth team, also started his first who season in the 95-96’ season, and through the years he built the perfect partnership with Neville, where they knew when one would overlap and the other would stay put. With Neville getting his fair share of assists.
As the years past and Neville lost some of the pace, he left the running down to Cristiano Ronaldo, although he would still support, his defensive ability had naturally improved over the years. And now as a much more senior member of the team along with Scholes and Giggs who still remained was looked up to and revered by the fans and players alike. And that is evident when he became Captain.
When Roy Keane left Manchester United, Sir Alex Ferguson appointed Neville captain, and there was never an ounce of doubt from any player, fan or coach.
During this time Neville suffered and injury that would see him miss most of the 07-08 season. During that time Ryan Giggs and Rio Ferdinand shared the captaincy. Neville came back from his long term injury against Roma in the Champions League. He was welcomed to a standing ovation and was given the armband. But didn’t feature in the final, though he did join in the celebrations after the shoot-out.
During Neville’s captaincy United have won 3 FA Community Shield, 3 League Cups, 1 Champions League’s and 3 Premierships titles. Though due to injuries Neville only lifted two of the Premiership titles (06-07 & 08-09’), 1 FA Community Shield (2008) and 1 League Cup (2006).
The 2007 FA Community Shield Ryan Giggs was captain as Neville did not feature, 07-08 Premier League(Ryan Giggs captain) & 07-08’ Champions League final Rio Ferdinand captained the side as Neville was injured the whole season. The 2008 FIFA Club World Cup final Neville came on at the 8th minute but again Ferdinand had captained the team that day and lifted the trophy, But Neville had captained the team in the previous game. 2009 League Cup final Neville didn’t take part in and Ferdinand was captained the side. 2010 League Cup Final Neville was on the bench, but came on after 66 minutes. Evra was captain that day and lifted the trophy.
Neville started his first game in seventeen months when he captained Manchester United for the 2008 FA Community Shield against Portsmouth. Hid first premiership game was against Chelsea.
Neville stepped down as team captain in September 2010 and his last game and 400th game was against West Brom on New Year’s Day.
Gary Neville will be remembered by the United faithful for years to come, not just for being part of one of the most successful Manchester United teams there have been, not just for making over 602 appearances 5th overall in United history, but for his love and loyalty to the team.
Gary Neville made his first start back in 1995 and went on to make 85 appearances. His last game for England was in 2007 before his injury suffered at Bolton. He enjoyed the same right side partnership with Beckham and then his partnership with Rio Ferdinand in defence. He became the most capped right back for England in a match against Italy in 2002 when he was brought on as a sub, breaking the record (50) held by Phil Neal. And with 85 caps it seems a long while before it is broken. Neville played in 4 European Championships and 2 World Cups.
With such an illustrious career behind him, he can keep his head held and evry England, Manchester United and football fan should be proud of all his efforts he has put into the game.