Tribute: The 'Red Nev' Retires From Football

Manchester United defender Gary Neville has announced his retirement from professional football. Neville, 35, made 602 appearances for United since his debut in 1992 and won a total of 85 England caps. "I have been a Manchester United fan all my life and fulfilled every dream I've ever had. 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," he said.

The right-back signed for United in July 1991 and made his debut for the club in September 1992 in a Uefa Cup tie against Torpedo Moscow. He was part of a side including David Beckham, Nicky Butt, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes which won the FA Youth Cup in 1992. Along with those players, he became a first-team regular at Old Trafford, winning the Champions League, eight Premier League trophies, three FA Cups and two League Cups in his time at United.

Neville was appointed United captain in 2005, and also became the country's most-capped right-back, playing under five different coaches. A broken ankle sustained in a game at Bolton in March 2007 kept him on the sidelines for a whole season. Although he battled back to make a further 33 appearances for the club, Wes Brown, John O'Shea and Rafael provided stiff competition for him at right-back. He stepped down as team captain in September 2010, although he continued to fulfil that role off the pitch.

Announcing his retirement with immediate affect, he said, "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. There are so many people I want to thank and of course top of that list is Sir Alex Ferguson. He has given me so many opportunities and countless support over the last 20 years. He is truly one of the greatest managers and I have to thank him for that. There have also been so many great players that I have had the privilege to train and play alongside. The experiences we've shared will be with me for the rest of my life."

He added, "I am looking forward to new experiences and the club will always be a part of my life going forward. However, the most important thing now is for the club to continue with the success that is synonymous with Manchester United and I will be supporting them all the way, as a fan."

Man Utd manager Sir Alex Ferguson said, "Gary was the best English right-back of his generation. He is an example to any young professional; hard-working, loyal and intelligent. As a United fan born and bred, his fantastic career at Old Trafford has cemented his place in the affection of the club's supporters everywhere."

Neville has been linked with a move into television punditry, while he is also considered a candidate to go into the coaching side of the game.

"Gary has been a great servant to the club and we thank him for his loyalty and his contribution to the tremendous success we have enjoyed in his playing time here. I know from my many dealings with him over the years he always had the club's best interests at heart. So whilst this illustrious chapter in his career has finished, his experience, commitment and energy will ensure he will continue to play a part in the life of the club, whether on the coaching or the commercial side," said United chief executive David Gill.

Team-mate Rio Ferdinand wrote on Twitter: "The best right-back in Premier League history, fact. Gonna be a big loss to our dressing room. Nev is loyal, funny, dedicated and talented....a true Man Utd legend. Gave his all for the club he supported and won a load of medals."

And former team-mate Steve Bruce told BBC Radio 5, "He had a wonderful hunger and desire to succeed, which kept him where he was in the game... a Manchester United icon."

United fans will forever adore him for the way he would antagonise Liverpool and their supporters. For the way he responded to Ferdinand's 90th-minute winner against them at Old Trafford in 2006 by running down the length of the pitch alone to celebrate in front of the away fans.

Quite rightly he was fined by the FA for incitement, but Neville didn't see it that way. 'Footballers aren't robots,' he retorted and, love him or hate him, you had to admire him. You had to laugh too when he made a one-fingered gesture to Carlos Tevez last year while warming up as a substitute against Manchester City.

Gary Neville's Manchester United Highlights
1991: Signs as apprentice for club
1992: Debut in Uefa Cup game against Torpedo Moscow
1995: Plays in FA Cup final loss to Everton
1996: Member of United's double winning squad
1997: First club goal in 3-3 draw with Middlesbrough
1999: Member of United's treble-winning squad
2000: Wins fourth championship medal and makes 250th club appearance
2003: Collects sixth Premiership winners medal
2004: Third FA Cup winners medal and signs new four-year contract
2005: Named club captain
2010: Wins second League Cup

Gary Neville's England Career
June 1995: Makes England debut in Umbro tournament at Wembley
1996: Member of England's Euro 96 squad, but misses semi-final exit to Germany
1998: Regular in Glen Hoddle's World Cup squad
2002: Wins 50th England cap in 1-1 draw with Holland but misses World Cup with an injury
2006: Ever present in Euro 06 squad
February 2008: Plays last full game for England in 1-0 defeat by Spain
May 2009: Recalled by Fabio Capello for England's World Cup qualifiers but does not play

Source: BBC

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