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Love Him Or Hate Him, Gary Neville Retires From Man United

Photo by AtilaTheHun

England and Manchester United right back Gary Neville has retired from football after playing 19 seasons at Old Trafford. During his career with United, Neville won 8 Premier League titles, 3 FA Cup medals, 2 League Cup medals, 3 Community Shield medals, 1 Champions League medal, 1 Intercontinental Cup medal and 1 FIFA Club World Cup medal. And he was a member of Manchester United’s version of their “Rat Pack,” better known as Fergie’s Fledglings which also included brother Phil Neville, Ryan Giggs, David Beckham, Nicky Butt and Paul Scholes.

To say Neville was part of a legacy at Manchester United is an understatement. At his height, the footballer was one of the best right back’s I’ve ever seen. For so many years, Neville floated in his dangerous and curving cross from the right wing which often caused defenses trouble and often resulted in a Manchester United midfielder or striker du jour getting a clear goalscoring chance. He was also one of those difficult defenders to beat who loved to press wingers and strikers and prevent them from being a pivotal player in the game.

As a footballer, Neville was a giant. As a Manchester United player, he was an iconic symbol of the success that the club achieved in the 90’s and the first decade of the new century. As a man on the football pitch, however, he was the player I loved to hate.

He was arrogant, obnoxious and seemingly egotistical. And he was the most defiantly loyal Manchester United player I’ve ever seen play. No matter what the call was, even if it was unequivocally a fair decision against United, Neville would always be the first one in the face of the referee arguing the call. Just as many people hate John Terry for his on-field attitude and how he tries to influence referees, Neville was exactly the same for United.

Neville’s other attribute which infuriated me was his penchant for baiting opposing fans and wiping their faces in it. A perfect example is this video clip featuring Neville going out of his way to mock Liverpool supporters after United scored a 90th minute injury time goal against them. And he also antagonized plenty of other opponents over the years, whether they were opposing teams or supporters.

Another famous attribute of Neville was his intense stare. At times, it was downright evil. But mostly, it was a stare reflecting an incredible focus of attention. It was his game face, and you can see perfect examples of it during his immature refusal to shake former teammate Peter Schmeichel’s hand in the tunnel before the Manchester derby, as well as his lingering stare against Arsenal’s Patrick Vieira.

My opinion is that I’ll miss Gary Neville the footballer, but I don’t miss Gary Neville the man. He was Manchester United through-and-through but I believe it was to his detriment. There is talk about Sky Sports considering him as a pundit for their Premier League matches, but for one man to be so biased towards Manchester United and against everyone else, I would have a tough time listening to him provide analysis. I question whether he would be as critical about Manchester United as other teams in the Premier League. But maybe he’ll prove me wrong. Or maybe he’ll end up being a coach at Manchester United where his true colors can shine.

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  1. PHRC

    February 4, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    Yawn….Is it any wonder that MAN U fans are not particularly well liked if other fans pounce on them on internet message boards due to pedantry such as how the team is to be referred to….

  2. Gareth van der King

    February 3, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    GN is a first class wanker.
    but was at one time, many years ago a better than average footballer.

  3. UpTheBlues

    February 3, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    Good riddance.

  4. Tony

    February 3, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    He’s staying “at the club” not as a player. He’s staying to do some coaching and work on his badges.

  5. Dave C

    February 3, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    According to the Independent, he’s changed his mind and will stick around until the end of the season (although given that he hardly ever plays, that will probably make no difference to anything).

    For some reason I imagine this whole “Gary Neville announces his retirement” thing has been one big prank so that he could see all his detractors admit that they actually have some grudging respect for him. Kind of like faking your own death to see who writes glowing obituaries.

  6. Owen

    February 3, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    @ PHRC :

    “I’m a big Man U fan”

    Even small United fans also never use Man U.How you became big fan??

  7. Interesting

    February 3, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    Broadcasters cannot stop customers using cheaper foreign satellite TV services to watch Premier League football, an EU legal adviser has said.

    Industry experts say satellite broadcasters face having to reform – leading possibly to the creation of just a handful of pan-European broadcasters.

    On one matter, the plaintiffs and the defence agree. Karen Murphy’s case at the European Court of Justice could herald a revolution. And it would not just be football and Sky which would be caught in the turmoil. Intellectual property rights across the European Union could be changed forever.

    For the first time, Saturday 3pm kick-offs would be widely available to watch on TV. A lure for many, certainly, but would it damage attendances at football grounds across the country?

  8. PHRC

    February 3, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    I agree totally with your opinion of Gary ‘ I speak in the 3rd person’…I’m a big Man U fan, but I can see through it all with some perspective…Gary couldn’t….he had that siege mentality that the whole world was against Man U and in the more recent years he became Fergie’s lapdog…..a true sycophant.

    His rants when somebody prank called him and when Rio merked him show that he has little perspective on it all…as well, his sense of entitlement to build his home in a greenbelt setting is quite telling.

    In the last 3 or 4 years his on field presence has been nil…his most recent game he should have been red carded and to think that he would get a place in the CL squad never mind in the final is a blinkered view on his part….time to move along Gary…I only wish he had retired about 3 or 4 years ago.

    Players who I have missed = Ole, Beckham, Andy Cole, Sheringham, Schmeichel but Gary Neville is not in the same category to me.

    That clip of him snubbing Schmeichel is unbelievable if it hasn’t been taken out of context.

    • [OPTI] Madschester United

      February 3, 2011 at 1:47 pm

      You’re a big Manchester United Football Club, MUFC, United, Man United fan? Then don’t say “Man U” — it’s insulting! Before you become a fan, learn some history!!

      And Neville is a living Legend.
      “This is Danny Wellbeck. He’s 18 and has won the Premier League” – Nevill to Michael Owen during Owen’s first practice 🙂 LEGEND

    • [OPTI]Madschester United

      February 3, 2011 at 2:56 pm

      “Man U” is not Man United fan-speak… get your history straight before calling yourself a “big fan”

      • PhillySpur

        February 3, 2011 at 3:09 pm

        Get over yourself.

      • UpTheBlues

        February 3, 2011 at 4:32 pm

        Stay classy, Man U fans 😉

  9. Kal

    February 3, 2011 at 12:12 pm

    Steve Mcmanaman is on TV ergo Gary Neville has a place. Enough said.

    • Gaz Hunt

      February 3, 2011 at 2:37 pm

      Macca can be on television because, while definitely a biased towards Liverpool (he could hardly contain himself when we beat Wolves recently), he doesn’t hate the other teams.

      You get the feeling from Neville that he hates the other teams (especially Liverpool). That would make it hard for him and the listeners.

      Plus, people with stupid, wispy mustaches can’t be on television.

  10. Gaz Hunt

    February 3, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    I try to be as unbiased as possible but, given the chance, I’d definitely punch Gary Neville in the face.

  11. Earl Reed

    February 3, 2011 at 11:13 am

    The same phenomenon is present in the NFL, with both Tedy Bruschi and Rodney Harrison being commentators on ESPN and NBC, respectively. Bruschi was a New England Patriot lifer, and Harrison played for them for several years. It’s been obvious that both former players are unable to detach themselves from their ardent love for their teammates.

  12. Fernando

    February 3, 2011 at 9:38 am

    He achieved everything in club football there is to win. Excellent player during his prime. As a player his commitment to United was never in doubt and if every player had his passion maybe supporters wouldn’t be so cynical.

    Alas though, he’ll be just another biased pundit who’ll talk drivel and won’t say anything of note. Who knows though.

  13. Bishopville Red

    February 3, 2011 at 9:21 am

    You call it immature, and to some degree it is, but what frustrates me more are the players laughing and back slapping opponents after a gutting loss. The fans live it and breathe it; the players spend it. EVERY supporter wishes the players had as much passion as they did. Gary Neville’s passion for his club takes a back set to nobody.

    As I read somewhere earlier, it’s pretty ironic that Gary Neville is so reviled when he’s never caught embracing a tap-up, drunk-driving, getting photographed outside some trashy gak bar legless at 3AM, or hitting his wife /some random person. If you want your kid to become a pro, his attitude and determination should be a template for anyone to follow. Even Scousers.

    It remains to be seen whether or not he chooses or is fitting for TV, but as was stated earlier, if the likes of Alan Hansen and Mark Lawrensen and Phil Thompson can blather on without people realizing they’re full of it, Neville has a place in TV. I’d rather listen to him say, “I hate that little so-and-so. I tried to kick him every time he got near me.” than Alan Shearer’s “Well, we don’t know much about (insert name of CL or WC stalwart to transferred to England here).”

    If Neville brings a fraction of his discipline and hard work from his playing days to TV, he’ll be the cream of the crop in no time.

  14. brn442

    February 3, 2011 at 9:04 am

    He was very good player, his Scouser bashing aside. If Phil Thompson can be a pundit, then there is hope for Gary too.

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