Gary Neville called time on an illustrious playing career on 2 February 2011, almost 20 years after making his debut for United.
He belongs to an elite group of players who have skippered the Reds to Premier League title glory. Following on from Bryan Robson, Steve Bruce, Eric Cantona and Roy Keane, Neville realised a lifelong dream as he became the fifth United captain to lift the Premier League trophy following the Reds’ triumph in 2006/07.
The Bury-born defender was handed the skipper’s armband following Keane’s departure during 2005/06. Being one of the Reds’ most consistent and committed performers since establishing himself in the side in 1994/95 at the expense of Paul Parker, Neville was a natural choice. He is as loyal a servant as you could hope to have, and in an age where players rarely stay put for long, he’s among a dying breed of one-club men. “United is the only club I’ve ever wanted to play for,” he says.
Vocal and single-minded, Neville has all the attributes and characteristics of a great leader of men. He entered every game refusing to contemplate defeat, and the fans loved him for it.
His enduring importance was recognised when the club extended his contract to keep him at OT until at least June 2011, but midway through the 2010/11 season he decided the time was right to retire.
Only four players - Ryan Giggs, Sir Bobby Charlton, Bill Foulkes and Paul Scholes - have made more appearances for United than Neville, whose four outings in the 2010/11 campaign took him to a final total of 602.