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Gary Neville worthy of respect

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Phil McNulty | 20:02 UK time, Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Gary Neville's vast legion of critics and admirers will all have their say after one of English football's most divisive figures announced his retirement with immediate effect - so let the facts speak for themselves.

Neville, 35, ends his playing career with one Champions League triumph, eight Premier League titles, three FA Cup victories, two League Cups, the Intercontinental Cup and the Fifa World Club Cup. And, of great significance in this era of player mobility, 602 appearances and seven goals for his only club, Manchester United.

If any footballer of the modern generation could use the phrase "show us your medals" in answer to those only too happy to pour cold water on his achievements it is Gary Neville.

Neville is on his way out of Manchester United after almost 20 years in Sir Alex Ferguson's first team and he leaves them where he always wants them to be, on top of the table and chasing another title.

He was part of Ferguson's great "Class Of 92", United's FA Youth Cup-winning side that also produced David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt. Neville will now hope the surviving two members of that unique crop, Giggs and Scholes, can play their part in bringing a record 19th title to Old Trafford.

neville2_blog595_getty.jpgNeville courted controversy throughout his glittering career

Neville, the outspoken 'Red Nev' who once threatened to lead an England players' strike when United team-mate Rio Ferdinand was banned for missing a routine drugs test, has polarised opinions throughout his career and will continue to do so.

At Old Trafford he was worshipped as the embodiment of Ferguson's philosophy - Manchester United against the world and give rivals not a shred of mercy.

Outside that world it is not too strong a description to say Neville was despised in some quarters, particularly at Anfield where he revelled in his ability to get under the skin of Liverpool fans.

Neville admitted his attitude was shaped by the success Liverpool had enjoyed at Manchester United's expense before Ferguson, to use his famous phrase, knocked them off their perch. It was an approach that made him a hate figure.

He was not exactly winning popularity contests in other parts of the country either for his unswervingly pro-United opinions and determination to speak his mind.

In among the honours there were also misdemeanours such as his highly-provocative goal celebration in front of Liverpool's supporters five years ago when Rio Ferdinand scored a last-minute winner at Old Trafford.

It was an act that cost him a £5,000 fine from the Football Association, but Neville was unrepentant as he said: "I believe it is a poor decision. Not just for me but for all footballers. Being a robot, devoid of passion and spirit is obviously the way forward for the modern-day footballer. And I ask the authorities, 'Where is football being taken?'"

Another black mark was his role in a failed players' strike in support of Ferdinand before England's Euro 2004 qualifier in Turkey, an action as ill-judged as the threat itself.

Former FA Executive Director Davies wrote as he recalled the incident: "I was informed Gary Neville was leading the charge against the FA. Somehow, this news did not surprise me. Gary was a leader, who cared passionately about those who sat alongside him in the dressing room.

"Some at the FA were stunned by the scale of the revolt stirred up by Red Nev. The new director of communications, Paul Barber, went in to talk with Gary and was almost knocked back by the strength of feelings.

"Such was the players' indignation there was even talk of a strike. No Rio, no game, came the message from Gary Neville. It sounded like there could be some empty seats on Thursday's flight to Istanbul. The players' desire to stick by one of their own was understandable, but the idea of a strike was far fetched."

And he was the provocateur last season at Old Trafford, even as a substitute, celebrating before Manchester City's devastated followers after Michael Owen's last-minute goal gave United a 4-3 win.

Episodes such as these should not be allowed to cloud the feats of one of the most provocative, enduring and successful personalities the Premier League has seen.

Neville was always a challenging interviewee, ever ready to throw questions back in the face of his inquisitors and always refreshingly ready with an opinion - and not caring whether you agreed or not.

Standards were never allowed to slip, or in Neville's case the standards applied at Manchester United.

When it was light-heartedly suggested to a senior Football Association figure in South Africa that Neville might have been a useful addition to England's 2010 World Cup squad, he recalled with raised eyebrows how he used to measure every single move the international circus made against what United would have done - not always favourably.

Awkward yes, outspoken yes, but fiercely driven in search of success, a success he invariable found.

nevilleblog595_getty.jpgNeville began his career in what would become a golden era for United

When I paid tribute to Neville on my Twitter feed after he made his decision to retire, the praise from United fans was matched by countless replies that were unprintable.

It would be an injustice to an outstanding player, the best English right-back of the modern era, if he was simply to be remembered and derided for a spiky and confrontational personality as opposed to his ability and achievements.

Neville was not just a United fixture, he won 85 England caps in an international career stretching across 12 years, playing in World Cups in France and Germany and three European Championships.

A superb defender with natural positional sense as well as a born leader on the pitch, Neville formed a right-wing partnership with Beckham that reaped rich rewards for club and country.

He even showed his strength of character in the latter days of his United career, battling back from injury problems that meant he did not make a league appearance in the 2007-08 title-winning season.

Neville may not have returned as the player he was before those problems, but he was still trusted by his mentor Ferguson. This season has been a mixed bag, however, and the fact that he was lucky to escape red cards at Stoke City and West Bromwich Albion may have crystallised his thoughts on retirement.

And his retirement should be accompanied by total respect for his achievements, even from the many who could not warm to his character. This is the very least a one-club man who became a symbol of a silver-lined Old Trafford era deserves.

As he goes, we can be certain we have not heard the last of Gary Neville - even his critics will agree with that.

You can follow me at twitter.com/philmcnulty and join me on Facebook.

Comments

Page 1 of 7

  • Comment number 1.

    Very worthy blog of one of the most passionate and dedicated players ever.

    Gary Neville = Legend

  • Comment number 2.

    A great servant to a great club, he will have the eternal respect of I and other United fans.

  • Comment number 3.

    A great character who can think for himself - football needs more like him.

    and, oh yeah, a very, very good player at his peak.

  • Comment number 4.

    Whilst some of his antics - spat with tevez over celebration against liverpool and city amongst a few are many reasons why he is disliked (quite rightly in my opinion) But he deserves respect due his trophy's and for being a very good player for england.

    I wont miss him,but you must respect him. In the future if people ask me about him, id say as character he was a little weasley who sucked up too much to fergie, but as a right back he was top notch and one of the best crossers of a football I have ever seen.

    Congrats on a stellar but unpopular career.

  • Comment number 5.

    Never liked him when he played and will never like him now when he retires. Only respect is for staying a one club man and not many in this day and age will do that.

  • Comment number 6.

    "A great character who can think for himself - football needs more like him.

    and, oh yeah, a very, very good player at his peak."

    Point 2 yes

    Point 1 not really - always felt he HASN'T got the intelligence to pull it off as a provocateur, as opposed to Cantona for example.

  • Comment number 7.

    While not the most gifted player, i feel Neville more than made up for it with his loyalty, desire and work rate. A good player for club and country.
    That he always spoke his mind is a testament to Neville as a man.
    oh and its 'invariably, not 'invariable' :)

  • Comment number 8.

    Neville was not the most gifted player to play the game and as such how is it loyal to choose to stay at Man Utd for the last twenty years.

  • Comment number 9.

    Well, he certainly divides opinions. Whether you like him or not (I don't particularly), you simply cannot argue with his career statistics. He has won every trophy going at club level, usually on numerous occasions and has played over 600 games at the highest level. When anyone says 'show us yer medals', Neville could start his own precious metals exchange. He also seems to thrive on adversity; I reckon he enjoyed playing at Anfield just as much as Old Trafford and putting one over the locals. I am sure that he is proud that the old enemy never lifted the Premier League on his watch, just as much as he is of any piece of silverware he has ever won.

    Love him or hate him, he's been a part of our lives for 20 years and yes, he will be missed. The game needs people like him to arouse the passion within us all. I just hope he doesn't resurface as Manchester United manager sometime in the future and win another 10 Premier League titles; that really would be too much.

  • Comment number 10.

    Unfortunately I didn't see much of him at his peak, but from what I've heard, he was a defensive rock and will be sadly missed in the dressing room at OT.

  • Comment number 11.

    Whats the odds he'll stay on as a coach at old trafford to learn under sir alex and will be a manager before the end of the 2011/12 season?

  • Comment number 12.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 13.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 14.

    as much as I have never liked neville at united, putting his oar in when it should be left out, you cannot take away his accomplishments as a player for 1 club he has stayed at throughout his career.

  • Comment number 15.

    A nasty little man.

    You have to earn respect, Neville's past antics means he will only ever be a Legend in the eyes of Utd supporters.

    Now if Giggs had retired he would be applauded across the country.

    Its a great day now the Snarling Neville is no more the only bad news is we will have to now put up with his apprentice, Rafael.

  • Comment number 16.

    You say it would be an insult to remember him as this provocative personality, yet you spend more than half the article talking about it.

    Not that Neville will be bothered. Where some footballers were more interested in living the high life, Neville just got on with winning trophies

  • Comment number 17.

    " Episodes such as these "

    " Episodes " being celebrating goals. How very dare he ?

    There's a picture on here somewhere of a load of fat Chelsea fans giving Torres the "J Arthur" sign from only about 3 feet away, their faces contorted in anger. Yet 'RedNev' had the audacity to celebrate a goal ( the object of the game ) in front of these types of supporters and is fined for it. Players are way over-compensated financially, but to be castigated for just giving a bit back ( by celebrating ), is nonsense. It's the fans behaviour that should be reprimanded, not the player. If you see the picture of the fatty chavs, you'll see what I mean. Or a picture of those humourous scouse wags kicking the ambulance that contained Neville's team mate Smith leaving Anfield . Then this bloke perpetuates the myth, allowing 'two hats' to justify their behaviour to themselves by calling Neville ' provocative'.........

  • Comment number 18.

    So the main criticism of Neville is that he celebrates victories against rival teams? Right...

    A brilliant right-back, who was solid week-in, week-out for club and country. I can count his footballing mistakes on the fingers of one... well, finger.

  • Comment number 19.

    Any person trying too discredit Gary Neville as a footballer doesn't have a clue what they are talking about. A great leader, an unbelievable footballer and served both club and country in impeccable fashion for the last decade or so. Any top club would of loved him in their team. As for #13 "he was a footballer, get a grip". It's a football blog, what are you doing here??

  • Comment number 20.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 21.

    Spot on with the Giggs observation. He's a real gentleman and even die hard supporters of rival clubs would feel a little bit sad that Giggs won't take to the pitch anymore. Don't think anyone apart from Utd supporters will miss Gary Neville on the other hand.

  • Comment number 22.

    Fergie's successor-you heard it here first! What better way to keep Scousers sick as parrots?

    And, Phil, just why was the near-strike misguided? That bloody drugs-test fiasco was botched by the testers & should never have been used against Ferdinand.

    Anyone who stands up against some of the plonkers who always run football should be congratulated. Otherwise, we'd still have the maximum wage, for a start.

  • Comment number 23.

    An overrated player who was lucky to be playing for a very good team under a great manager.

    Neville summed it up himself best:

    "I have played in the most incredible football teams, playing with some of the best players in the world as well as against them and I have been lucky to be a part of the team's achievements and the club's great success"

    - with the emphasis on "I have been lucky".

    Quote from the BBC interview on his retirement.

  • Comment number 24.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 25.

    Gary who?

  • Comment number 26.

    PHIL

    Should have added-best right-back in England in my lifetime(I was born 1952)in his prime, bar George Cohen & Chris Lawler, though the latter did spend some time at centre-half, too.

  • Comment number 27.

    presumably by "kicking reyes to pieces" you mean tackling him and then not stopping to wipe away the spaniards tears and pat him on the head

    get a grip, man

    seem to remember reyes getting sent off in the cup final



    as for the point about luck, the point really was that the harder neville worked the luckier he got. being first pick for united for well over a decade while they dominated the english game like only liverpool had ever done in the modern era before them is all you need to say about this player's ability.

  • Comment number 28.

    9barr

    Martin Keown during the 'Invincibles' run ?

  • Comment number 29.

    I think he knew the writing was on the wall as the appearances he made this season were terrifyingly bad and could easily have cost united points - he should have been sent off once and possibly could have been sent off and conceded a penalty in another game.

    Fergie realised he could no longer cut it and has probably told him, hence the immediate retirement. I wonder who the club captain will be now?

    He was a polarising figure, and i am sure he would enjoy all the vitriolic responses to your twitter page Phil, it means he had an effect on rivals.

  • Comment number 30.

    9barr lay off!

    Did they win.....?
    Did he play a important part in them not winning? Yes...Good defending, kicking lump or not.

    Loyal, gobby and ugly but damn G Nev in his prime now....20million RB!

  • Comment number 31.

    surely he won 2 champions leagues? or was he not in last champions league winning squad?

  • Comment number 32.

    The reason that Neville is split between the Man United fans and the rest is that he is first & foremost a fan of his club. This is pulled from The Guardian interview that you have linked to,

    "When I was younger there was no doubt about it," he said. "I was a United fan, they [Liverpool] were winning everything and it was a horrible time for my club, to be honest, through the 70s and 80s.

    "I suppose it came from jealousy through my childhood – jealousy, hatred, passion for your own club. You don't want them [Liverpool] to win anything, and you don't like the people who are winning, just like I've seen in the last 15 or 16 years, from a good side, everybody is now 'we all hate Man United' – and they hate Man United because we are winning."

    There can't be many fans who don't agree with these are the feelings they get when other teams are winning, and your club is in the shadows. (Un)fortunately, he had the opportunity and the dedication to be with his team when they walked out of the proverbial shadows and into success.

    Pretty sure there is a chair with his name on it at Sky for him to take on and if not, I'm sure that he'll be somewhere at United or Bury taking his coaching badges.

  • Comment number 33.

    What ever Hater's say.. Gary Neville is a legend and premier league's best right-back AND they know it inside,

    GARY NEVILLE=LEGEND

  • Comment number 34.

    Top player for United, every team would have loved him if he was theirs.

    Thanks Nev.

  • Comment number 35.

    Great, great player. Will always have a place in United fans' hearts

    And, [a rarity, but credit due], an excellent blog Mr McNulty!

  • Comment number 36.

    Thanks, Gary. A great career. Well done.

  • Comment number 37.

    While I don't want to detract from Gary Neville's achievements, I have to take issue with people praising him for his ''loyalty''.

    How difficult is it to remain ''loyal'' to one of the biggest football clubs in the world, who challenged season after season on all fronts ?


    It's like when people praise Barcelona's players for their loyalty !

    Who wouldn't want to play for this current Barcelona side ?!

    Do you really think that any Manchester United, Arsenal, Barcelona, Real Madrid etc. player would remain loyal to their team if they struggling in mid-table for a few seasons ?

  • Comment number 38.

    Hated him as a player and won't be able to stand him as a pundit/manager. However great player, true legend and worthy of great respect!!!

  • Comment number 39.

    As a Bury fan, I'd regularly see Red Nev down at Gigg Lane if he wasn't playing when he was younger. I was kind of hoping he'd come and play a season with us before he packed up. but the games he's played this season show that he's most definitely not the player he once was. Isn't it strange though, that Ryan Giggs (who had all sorts of injury problems when he was younger) has outlasted Neville...I always thought it'd probably be the other way round!

    There'll never be another glut of kids like that team from the 90s. March on, Red Nev, and never change just because people don't like the way you are!

  • Comment number 40.

    I'm a Liverpool supporter so obviously i should have feelings of hate for Gary Neville? Well sorry to disappoint some people, but i would've loved to have Gary Neville playing 602 appearances for Liverpool. Yes i must admit to shouting obscenities at the screen when he celebrated the late goal against Liverpool and also when moaned to basically everyone when on the football field, but i did have a grudging respect for him.

    People say that he wasn't an attacking full-back, but then the best attacking full-backs aren't particularly good defensively, and Neville was better than nearly anyone of his generation. To be fair his crossing was pretty darn good, he was the one who crossed for Shearer in the Euro '96 final.

    One of my favourite Liverpool players of recent times was Javier Mascherano. He was liked by a lot of Liverpool supporter and disliked by others. He could be an annoying player, dirty at times, much like Gary Neville but in his position, there weren't many around who were better.

    Yes he was a bit of a c**k, but i'm sure everyone would've loved him if he played for their team. I won't miss your attitude towards Liverpool, Gary but you were a great servant for club and country and that is something that shouldn't be sniffed at.

    Oh and another reason why i'll miss him is that about 8 years ago i asked my 10 year old nephew (who supported Liverpool) who his favourite England player was. Thinking he might say Michael Owen or Steven Gerrard, he took his time and said totally seriously... Gary Neville.

  • Comment number 41.

    If he was that loyal, then why didn't he support and play for his local club ? :p

  • Comment number 42.

    8.

    You contradict yourself massively in this point.

    He isn't that talented yet he chose to stay at the most successful team since the creation of the Premier League!! If he wasn't that talented he wouldn't have been in the team n the first place... The fact is he's been the best Right Back for both Man Utd and England for the last 20 Years.

    You may not like the man (many don't) but you have to accept he has been an exceptional player for bot club and country and respect what he has achieved in the game, all the time staying loyal to the club he loves, something severely lacking in the majority of players these days.

    So before anybody else posts any negative, pointless comments think whether you would have had Neville in your team in the 90's and early 00's and whether you respect what he has achieved ON the field.

  • Comment number 43.

    loyalty and real passion for the club he represented some of the prima dona's that follow the cash could and should look at his carear and wish they could be like that. as a villa and england fan thankyou gary there is still hope loyalty and passion can be part of a players makeup.

  • Comment number 44.

    15. The Whinger wrote:
    "A nasty little man. You have to earn respect, Neville's past antics means he will only ever be a Legend in the eyes of Utd supporters."

    --------------------------------------------------------

    You're falling in to the all-too-common trap. Football isn't X-Factor, it's not a popularity contest, it's about winning trophies.

    Neville couldn't give two hoots what opposition fans think of him, he has been instrumental in Manchester United's success and is one of the most decorated players in the history of the top flight. Therefore if you were to look at it subjectively, it would be hard to argue that Neville doesn't deserve massive respect for what he was achieved.

    Wait, just checked, you're a city fan. Scrap the bit about being subjective.

    ps - you called Cesc Fabregas a 'nasty little man' on another blog earlier today. Is that your catchphrase?

  • Comment number 45.

    I would say, on Neville's playing ability, that he was often very unappreciated by many people, as so many right/left backs are.

    He was actually a top-quality full-back, but didn't always receive the plaudits that he deserved because he was no Cafu !

    It seems that a lot of time, full-backs are rated for their attacking ability just as much as for their defensive prowess.

    England's current right-back, Glen Johnson, is a perfect example of this; he is very good as an attacking wing-back, yet his defensive skills are -comparatively - pretty mediocre.

  • Comment number 46.

    Winner!

  • Comment number 47.

    Colonel White...

    The only person that put the emphasis on "I have been lucky" is YOU... Any player that is part of a successful team would say the same thing because football is a team sport and trophies are not won individually. I'll assume you're aware how football works so I'll spare you the in detail analysis of team work etc...

    Your point has no validity given the amount of England caps he has... Or was that 'luck' too?

  • Comment number 48.

    Neville so loyal to United and that is why he is so hated. A born winner and Mr Reliable. Great understanding down Uniteds right hand side with Beckham. A true United legend and will be sorely missed. If Rafael has half as good a career as Neville, he would have done well.

  • Comment number 49.

    Good riddance to Ferguson's lap dog.

  • Comment number 50.

    Its a real testiment to just how good he was that opposing fans are glad to see the back of him.

    A complete windup merchant mixed in with an incredibly professional work ethic. A never say die attitude for both England and Manchester united.


    Merseyside will be a happier place this evening with this news.

  • Comment number 51.

    Godd riddance to a thoroughly nasty, self important, pumped up little man. No class whatsoever.

  • Comment number 52.

    I have no particlar respect for Neville.
    I'm sure utd fans have.
    I'm sure Phil McNulty does too.

    LOL

  • Comment number 53.

    Brilliant player and a great captain. Only Cafu was a better right-back when Neville was in his prime. He combined brilliant positioning, great timing in the tackle, pinpoint crossing and a stunning work rate, which made him a brilliant defender for over 10 years.

    Funny too that he always considered himself a frustrated centre-back!

  • Comment number 54.

    He epitomised all that is wrong with British football. In no other country could someone so technically inept play at the top level for so long.

  • Comment number 55.

    I actually find it very funny that people deride Neville for saying things that every fan up and down the country say every week. The man has passion. He hates Liverpool because he is a United fan, not just a player, and he, rightly in my eyes, wasn't going to let the fact he was a player dilute that fact.

    I wish there were more players like him, with true loyalty and heart, even if, as said, he wasn't the best player in the world.

    On that mark though, who would you rather have at right back for England? Neville at his peak or Johnson?

  • Comment number 56.

    At 11:39pm on 02 Feb 2011, The_soul_patch_of_David_Villa wrote:
    If he was that loyal, then why didn't he support and play for his local club ? :p

    ==========================================================================

    Well done The_soul_patch_of_David_Villa, you win the award for most pointless comment of the whole blog. Possibly because he was an International class Defender whilst Bury are, and have been throughout Neville's career, languishing in the lower leagues.

    This point itself typifies the biased uninformed opinions of a great servant to Football itself... You may not be aware of the work he has done on behalf of ALL footballers (yes, even the ones that play for your club) in his role with the PFA.

  • Comment number 57.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 58.

    I am sick of people who think if they say ".... doesn't know anything about football..." thinking that means they do and everyone will accept it. As a Man U fan I can admit Gary Neville was not the best right back in the Prem. He was the best English right back over his period of time probably but he lacked pace and a good winger would nearly always have his measure. He is the one player i would admit got away with an awful lot and should have been sent off a lot more than he was because he was always caught out and his default was to foul. He was the one player i was embarrassed about (Keane was dirty etc but he was good). Nev huffed and puffed but he wasn't THAT good.

  • Comment number 59.

    He's had a great carreer and won plenty of medals, so he definitely deserves some respect. I don't think he's a legend of any kind though as he has always been a vastly overrated player imho (just like his bruv) so therefore I don't think staying at a massive club like Man U for 20 years can be seen as a great achievement. During the years he played for Man U they have consistently had a great team and I never really understood why a player like Nev was ever in the squad. Still, doubt he cares when he looks at his medals and bank account statements :)

  • Comment number 60.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 61.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 62.

    54. twaddington wrote:
    "He epitomised all that is wrong with British football."

    -----------------------------------------------------------

    Did he ever manufacture a move away from his club to chase £££'s. No

    Was he always in the news for nightclub brawls or affairs with z-list nobodies? No

    Did he dive at every opportunity or play-act? No

    Did he care more about his image rights than playing football? No

    Let's be clear about this, what you really don't like is that he played for United and was outspoken. 'All that is wrong with British football' - get a grip!!!

    As for playing ability - Ferguson doesn't bow down to sentiment. You don't play for a team like United 602 times unless you're a very good footballer.

  • Comment number 63.

    47. At 11:50pm on 02 Feb 2011, Mike Fagan wrote:
    Colonel White...

    The only person that put the emphasis on "I have been lucky" is YOU... Any player that is part of a successful team would say the same thing because football is a team sport and trophies are not won individually. I'll assume you're aware how football works so I'll spare you the in detail analysis of team work etc...

    -------------

    Sure, football is a teamsport, full agree. However, 10 good players and one mediocre one will still win you an afwul lot. I've seen Barca destroy the oposition with Keita and Abidal in their team and they're hardly fantastic footballers.

    Obviously it's a matter of opinion whether GNev is a good player, but to say that a very successful team (as manchester utd were and still are) can't have a mediocre player playing is wrong imo.

  • Comment number 64.

    Not a Man Utd fan but I have to say he was a solid player for the club, always put in a good shift every game and was a decent crosser of the ball when he went on the over lap. I think people forget how important players like this are to a team. I'm sure all the players that played with him would acknowledged his contributions over the years.

  • Comment number 65.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 66.

    Was Neville a world class right back? No
    Was he the best in the premiership? Yes

    There has always been a serious dirth of top quality full backs in the premier league, particularly right backs. Ashley Cole and Patrice Evra aside ther hasn't been many great full backs over recent seasons. Jose Enrique has a chance of being a special player, Heinze was good but not reliable for Man U, Clichy/Warnock/Baines all have their moments but they are all hit or miss. Also they are all left backs.

    In terms of right backs there's not so much going on. It's hard to recall any quality right backs over the last 10-15 years, hence Neville was the best in the premiership.

    I've probably left some decent players out but, as I mentioned, there are none that jump to mind to challenge Neville - who in my opinion was good but not great.

  • Comment number 67.

    60. WoyoftheWeds wrote:
    "Gerry Neville is a rat faced, horrible little weasel. Glad to see him go."

    Your first contribution on the blogs I see. I look forward to hearing more of what you have to say in future.

  • Comment number 68.

    37. At 11:34pm on 02 Feb 2011, The_soul_patch_of_David_Villa wrote:
    While I don't want to detract from Gary Neville's achievements, I have to take issue with people praising him for his ''loyalty''.

    How difficult is it to remain ''loyal'' to one of the biggest football clubs in the world, who challenged season after season on all fronts ?


    It's like when people praise Barcelona's players for their loyalty !

    Who wouldn't want to play for this current Barcelona side ?!

    Do you really think that any Manchester United, Arsenal, Barcelona, Real Madrid etc. player would remain loyal to their team if they struggling in mid-table for a few seasons
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------
    Use that logic will you and explain why these players left their clubs then, Theiry Henry, Ronaldo, Beckham,Tevez,Robinhino before he came to city, the list goes on, Successful players move,

  • Comment number 69.

    62. At 00:20am on 03 Feb 2011, socrates_says wrote:
    54. twaddington wrote:
    "He epitomised all that is wrong with British football."

    -----------------------------------------------------------

    Did he ever manufacture a move away from his club to chase £££'s. No


    Can't imagine any team with the cash to provide him with a higher salary than at Man U would have come in for him. Hence my initial point about staying at Man U for 20 years not an achievement.

  • Comment number 70.

    68. At 00:27am on 03 Feb 2011, collie21 wrote:

    Henry left because he wanted to win the CL and there was little chance of him achieving that at Arsenal. Beckham had some troubles with Fergie (please correct me if I'm wrong though) and there were some issues with regards to signing Tevez hence the reason he left. Robinho was in and out of the Real Madrid squad and therefore wanted to leave.

    Combine the abovementioned reasons with the fact that Nev is also a (rather) local lad and I do not see his loyalty as a fantastic achievement

  • Comment number 71.

    37. At 11:34pm on 02 Feb 2011, The_soul_patch_of_David_Villa wrote:
    While I don't want to detract from Gary Neville's achievements, I have to take issue with people praising him for his ''loyalty''.

    How difficult is it to remain ''loyal'' to one of the biggest football clubs in the world, who challenged season after season on all fronts ?


    It's like when people praise Barcelona's players for their loyalty !

    Who wouldn't want to play for this current Barcelona side ?!

    Do you really think that any Manchester United, Arsenal, Barcelona, Real Madrid etc. player would remain loyal to their team if they struggling in mid-table for a few seasons
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------
    Use that logic will you and explain why these players left their clubs then, Theiry Henry, Ronaldo, Beckham,Tevez,Robinhino before he came to city, the list goes on, Successful players move,

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------

    Yes successful players move but I feel the original poster's point still remains. It is a lot easier to remain loyal to a team if they are as successful as Man Utd were over that period. Likewise with Barca and the like. Much harder to be loyal if your team aren't looking up to scratch. Therefore I would consider Shearer and Gerrard as loyal, Neville not so much.

    The fact that players such as Scholes and Giggs have stayed also suggests that it isn't as difficult to remain at Man Utd, and 'stay loyal' as it would be at other clubs

  • Comment number 72.

    LincolnManUtd

    you couldn't be more wrong I really struggle to think of any better right backs during the prem era, and i find it harder to think of many of these wingers that would give him a torrid time, neville was an outstanding right back who didnt lack pace as you say, he was also a terrific centre back when he was younger due to his fantastic reading of the game, true united legend

  • Comment number 73.

    Dont like him.
    He might be a fan, but also a professional. Is meant to be a role model to younger children. His absolute hatred for Liverpool as well as trend of making other team's fans hate him is not exactly something which children should be taught to emulate.

    with him being a pundit, well you have listen to both sides of the coin to be able to do that.

    The only place which will accept him in Man united, in a coach capacity. True boot licker, as described by a certain Argentinian.

  • Comment number 74.

    65. At 00:23am on 03 Feb 2011, TwoWardrobes wrote:
    If opinions on personality count ...

    Frank Lampard, Joey Barton, John Terry, Andres Iniesta, Steven Gerrard, Robin van Persie, Lee Bowyer, Wayne Rooney, Patrick Viera, Didier Drogba, Jamie Carragher, Ashley Cole, Lee Hughes, El Hadji Diouf, Thierry Henry, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Marco Materazzi, Cesc Fabregas, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Andy Carroll, Nani, Charles N'Zogbia, Jonathan Woodgate, Michael Brown, Robert Pires, Emmanuel Adebayor, Nicholas Anelka, Craig Bellamy, Cristiano Ronaldo, Sol Campbell, Arjen Robben

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    What a truly bizarre list !

    While I don't know any of these people personally, as far as I'm aware, about 80% of the players you mention have no known personality issues.

    Lampard ? Iniesta ? Henry ? Drogba ? Robben ?

  • Comment number 75.

    Agreed arsenalforlife. Good player but went out of his way to antagonise opposing fans. I don't think many outside of Manchester (or London if I'm feeling cheeky) will miss him.

  • Comment number 76.

    David_Villa

    You don't think Drogba has personality issues???? Seriously?

    The rest I'd agree with, although personally not a massive fan of Lampard.

  • Comment number 77.

    56. At 00:05am on 03 Feb 2011, Mike Fagan wrote:

    Well done The_soul_patch_of_David_Villa, you win the award for most pointless comment of the whole blog. Possibly because he was an International class Defender whilst Bury are, and have been throughout Neville's career, languishing in the lower leagues.

    This point itself typifies the biased uninformed opinions of a great servant to Football itself... You may not be aware of the work he has done on behalf of ALL footballers (yes, even the ones that play for your club) in his role with the PFA.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Thanks(!) Do I get a trophy or medal for this award ?

    While my initial comment was largely tongue-in-cheek, there was a serious point behind it.

    He's from Bury, and his father is very much involved with that football club.

    You are just reiterating my point.


    He wouldn't have spent his career at Bury, because he was far too good for them.

    Therefore he played his entire career at a club who challenged every single year, both domestically and internationally.

    Hardly a huge amount of ''loyalty'' required, was there ?


    I'm not a Manchester United fan, but it's inarguable that they are one of the true ''giants'' of international football, consequently, just about any move from them would generally be considered to be a move sideways, at best.

    It wasn't like he had Real Madrid, Barcelona, AC Milan, Inter or Bayern attempting to acquire his services every season.

    If, hypothetically, Manchester United had plummeted down the divisions during his playing career, do you think that he would have remained ''loyal'' to the club, or would he moved on to bigger and better things ?

  • Comment number 78.

    Drolbor @ 11.02pm: Whats the odds he'll stay on as a coach at old trafford to learn under sir alex and will be a manager before the end of the 2011/12 season?


    Answer: the odds will be extremely poor

  • Comment number 79.

    76. At 00:45am on 03 Feb 2011, D_B50 wrote:

    You don't think Drogba has personality issues???? Seriously?
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Didier Drogba strikes me as a passionate person who wears his heart on his sleeve ( sometimes to his own detriment ).

    That may be constitute personality issue, but I don't think that that makes it valid for him to be bracketed in a list alongside Joey Barton and El-Hadji Diouf 1

  • Comment number 80.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 81.

    Please ignore my previous post, as I really need to proofread them first !

    It should read:


    Didier Drogba strikes me as a passionate person who wears his heart on his sleeve ( sometimes to his own detriment ).

    That may constitute a personality issue, but I don't think that it's fair or valid to bracket him in a list alongside Joey Barton and El-Hadji Diouf !

  • Comment number 82.

    Red Nev took it too far. It's good to be passionate about the club you play for, but its not ok to let your passion turn into hatred of others. Therefore respect is something I can never have for him, because he has a lack of respect towards other clubs. But not everything about him was bad. I wish more footballers were as dedicated as he was, I wish the current English players cared as much about the national team as he did. As a footballer he was as consistent and reliable player I've ever seen and is undoubtedly a legend. He'll live long in my memory but he never gained a place in my heart.

  • Comment number 83.

    It wasn't like he had Real Madrid, Barcelona, AC Milan, Inter or Bayern attempting to acquire his services every season
    -----------------------------------------

    the same could be said for ryan giggs and Paul scholes, couldn't it??
    There is a good reason why top teams abroad would not/have not bothered with bids for them, because they know there is a very small chance that they would consider leaving.

    Similar situation to for example Phillip Lahm.


    Also the relationship that Giggs, scholes, and Neville have with Sir Alex is very strong. He has truly been a father figure throughout their careers. Consequently they feel a huge responsibility to remain loyal to him and the club.

  • Comment number 84.

    Soul Patch Of David Villa...

    Gary Neville has always been a Manchester United fan, the only reason he has the link with Bury is because his dad used to work there and his mum still does. Doesn't mean he wasn't being loyal by not signing and playing for Bury. I highly doubt Red Nev would have accepted a move to any other club, especially in this country, when he was at the peak of his career because he is Manchester United through and through. always has been, always will be. Having spoken to him on several occasions, I can tell you that he has a soft spot for Bury, after all he has huge connections there, but there is no way in hell he'll want to be a part of any other football club.

  • Comment number 85.

    Gary Neville is really good. Why hasn't he played much this season? I saw him play against West Bromwich Albion and he was subbed.

  • Comment number 86.

    You don't think Drogba has personality issues???? Seriously?
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Didier Drogba strikes me as a passionate person who wears his heart on his sleeve ( sometimes to his own detriment ).

    That may be constitute personality issue, but I don't think that that makes it valid for him to be bracketed in a list alongside Joey Barton and El-Hadji Diouf 1
    ----------------------------------------------------------

    Obviously Drogba shouldn't be bracketed with people like Barton and Diouf.
    But then, neither should Neville.

    In my opinion Drogba's outburst, which resulted in him swearing on live television is actually worse, in role model/proffesional terms, then Neville celebrating in front of opposition fans.

  • Comment number 87.

    Reminds me of the Adebayor celebration incident. The majority were up in arms about it.
    But actually i think it's great to see.
    Arsenal fans got well and truly on his back, so he gives it right back to them.
    They have emotions just like everyone else.

  • Comment number 88.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 89.

    A decent club player who benefited from being on a very talented United team.....had he been playing for say, Aston Villa, nobody would have noticed his retirement.

  • Comment number 90.

    68. At 00:27am on 03 Feb 2011, collie21 wrote:

    Use that logic will you and explain why these players left their clubs then, Theiry Henry, Ronaldo, Beckham,Tevez,Robinhino before he came to city, the list goes on, Successful players move
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I think there are a number of factors that have to be taken into consideration when analysing and understanding why a player may move from one successful club to another:

    1. Money.

    We can't beat around the bush; this is probably the main reason why a player will move from one successful club to another club.

    2. Personal ambition.

    Real Madrid are arguably the biggest club in the world, but please tell me that players without an emotional attachment to the club, such as Xabi Alonso, Mesut Özil and Kaká, wouldn't love to be a part of this Barcelona team.

    3. ''Cultural relativism''.

    The importance of a club - and whether a move to or from the club is a step up, down or sideways - will vary from nation to nation.

    For example, as an Englishman, I would consider Aston Villa to be a big club, and probably the 6th biggest club in the country, due to their history.

    Yet, if I was a foreign footballer, I would just look at Villa as a mid-table Premiership club on a par with Fulham and Blackpool.

    4. A falling out with the manager/team-mate/fans.

    Sometimes these disagreements can be unreconcilable, and will be a major factor in a player exiting any club, whether it's Barcelona or Burton Albion. :p


    Thierry Henry, Arsenal to Barcelona, I would imagine, was a mixture of 1, 2 and 3.

    Cristiano Ronaldo, Manchester United to Real Madrid, would be 1 and 3.

    Carlos Tevez, Manchester United ( sort of ) to Manchester City, was, by many accounts, 1 and 4.

    Robinho, Real Madrid to Manchester City, as well, was 1 and 4.

    David Beckham, I'm not quite so sure.





    In Gary Neville's case, then I don't that 1 really applied, as he never had the opportunity to ''double his wages'' at another club.

    Again, 2 wouldn't apply, as he won everything ( at least twice ) that he could have done with any other club.

    3 is not applicable, and 4 is certainly not !




  • Comment number 91.

    A decent club player who benefited from being on a very talented United team.....had he been playing for say, Aston Villa, nobody would have noticed his retirement.

    ------------------------------------------------------
    you are 100% right to be fair....
    it's one of the fringe benefits of playing for united ;)

  • Comment number 92.

    I have tried to contribute for the first time ever and it is blocked on grounds of profantiy - there is no swear, sexist or rascist content in my post - can someone help.?

  • Comment number 93.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 94.

    Have the utmost respect for Neville, a true great for club and country.

    Obviously a lot of non-United fans don't like him but what does he care when he has had that magnificent career.

    You don't play for Manchester United for that long without being good. He was a very good player and had the passion to match it. Let's face it, not many people show that same passion apart from Gerrard, Carragher, Giggs, Scholes - one-club players (I know there are more, just an example of a few).

    He was part of what could well be the greatest team to have played football (certainly in Britain, maybe the world). I don't think we will ever see a group of players come through like the 'Class of '92' again. They were fantastic and Neville was a major part.

  • Comment number 95.

    I think there are a number of factors that have to be taken into consideration when analysing and understanding why a player may move from one successful club to another:

    1. Money.

    We can't beat around the bush; this is probably the main reason why a player will move from one successful club to another club.

    2. Personal ambition.

    Real Madrid are arguably the biggest club in the world, but please tell me that players without an emotional attachment to the club, such as Xabi Alonso, Mesut Özil and Kaká, wouldn't love to be a part of this Barcelona team.

    3. ''Cultural relativism''.

    The importance of a club - and whether a move to or from the club is a step up, down or sideways - will vary from nation to nation.

    For example, as an Englishman, I would consider Aston Villa to be a big club, and probably the 6th biggest club in the country, due to their history.

    Yet, if I was a foreign footballer, I would just look at Villa as a mid-table Premiership club on a par with Fulham and Blackpool.

    4. A falling out with the manager/team-mate/fans.

    Sometimes these disagreements can be unreconcilable, and will be a major factor in a player exiting any club, whether it's Barcelona or Burton Albion. :p


    Thierry Henry, Arsenal to Barcelona, I would imagine, was a mixture of 1, 2 and 3.

    Cristiano Ronaldo, Manchester United to Real Madrid, would be 1 and 3.

    Carlos Tevez, Manchester United ( sort of ) to Manchester City, was, by many accounts, 1 and 4.

    Robinho, Real Madrid to Manchester City, as well, was 1 and 4.

    David Beckham, I'm not quite so sure.





    In Gary Neville's case, then I don't that 1 really applied, as he never had the opportunity to ''double his wages'' at another club.

    Again, 2 wouldn't apply, as he won everything ( at least twice ) that he could have done with any other club.

    3 is not applicable, and 4 is certainly not !


    -------------------------------------

    Good post, mate.
    have to agree that for him, staying with united wasn't necessarily hard for neville. He had it made out for him (in sense) when you conisider that he had no competition for his position, was playing for his favourite club who were the most succesful team during his playing years.
    There never was a reason for him to leave.

    In a sense his loyalty was never tested.

    But i would give him credit for always giving his all. And for his dedication to remain fit and able to play into his mid 30's.

  • Comment number 96.

    Not English or a Manc but respect where it is due, he loved his club, his country, and cleaned up in silverware.

    I like colourful characters and the game would be poorer without them.

    If I were a player I'd like to think I'd have the exact same attitude in every way.

    Professional, skillful, successful, loyal to my club, passionate and rubbing everyone else's face in it.

  • Comment number 97.

    Over-rated. If he was such a great player why did he only stay at one club? Surely a truly great player would have pushed himself to another level and played and been equally successful for one of the big continental giants i.e Barca/Real Madrid, Inter Milan etc. Gary Neville was lucky enough to be surrounded by great players, he himself is just a good player im afraid. Longevity with one club only shows a safe non-ambitious mentality, he wouldn't even make the bench at Barcelona!

  • Comment number 98.

    Phil, his partnership with Beckham reaped rewards for club, but certainly not for country, England never featured at the top of world football during Gary and Beckhams time, in fact as everyone knows it has been a shocking embarrassment of under achievement over the years he featured for England. As for the male model Beckham, he must be the worst England captain of all time.

  • Comment number 99.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 100.

    You don't play for so long as first choice right back at a multi-title winning side if you are just average.

 

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