Manchester United’s history is crammed full of great players, from Duncan Edwards and Bobby Charlton up to Eric Cantona and Cristiano Ronaldo.
But some players, despite their limited abilities in comparison to the rest of the star-studded squads, become club legends and cult heroes.
Gary Neville was one of those players.
Don’t get me wrong, he was a very good right-back, one of the best in the country, but it’s hard to dazzle a crowd in that position. But Neville managed it, and here are five reasons why he is the ultimate Manchester United legend.
1. He hates Manchester City and Liverpool
It’s pretty much essential for a Manchester United legend to despise their local rivals. Neville may have gifted Manchester City’s Shaun Goater a goal back in 2002, but his autobiography is titled Red and he simply loves the Old Trafford club.
When United beat Liverpool in 2006, Neville went nuts in front of the Liverpool fans. He was also quoted in a United fanzine as saying: “I can’t stand Liverpool, I can’t stand the people, I can’t stand anything to do with them.”
When asked whether he’d prefer City or Liverpool to win the title in 2015, his response was priceless:
“It’s like having a choice between two blokes to nick your wife.”
2. He’s won it all
He was Sir Alex Ferguson’s first-choice right-back for almost all of his playing career, which is no mean feat. Neville helped United to winning every trophy there was to win in club football. Just look at the state of that trophy haul:
Eight Premier League titles, three FA Cups, two League Cups and two Champions Leagues isn’t matched by many professionals in world football.
3. He’s giving back to the local area
Along with Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt, Ryan Giggs and his brother Phil, Neville invested in Salford City football club.
In the Class of ’92: Out of Their League documentaries, Neville comes across brilliantly and is committed to making his venture into club ownership a success, without compromising what the club stands for or stepping on supporters’ toes.
Since their ownership, Salford have achieved back-to-back promotion and look to be well on their way to the Football League.
4. He’s the voice of Sky Sports
It’s great to see the men you loved as players go on to successful careers after their retirement, whether that’s in management or media or anything else. Neville’s foray into management may have been a disaster, but he raised the bar as a pundit and commentator at Sky Sports.
A personal highlight is when he said Chelsea’s David Luiz looked as though he was being controlled by “a 10-year-old on a PlayStation”.
Even if the fixture on Monday Night Football is dire, it’s worth tuning in to see Neville and co-host Jamie Carragher go at it.
5. He was endearingly geeky
Neville was renowned for his reliability and solidity in the back four. There were no frills and no nonsense, but he did have a wicked cross in his locker.
His hilariously weak moustache worn in his latter years at Manchester United was a joy to behold. Unlike the preening Ronaldos or any of his narcissistic peers who were getting hair transplants and relentlessly marketing themselves, Neville just loved football. He was there to play for the club he’d grown up supporting, and he never took it for granted.
Oasis frontman and avid Man City fan Liam Gallagher once described Neville as “an estate agent”. We wouldn’t have him any other way.