With his testimonial coming up on Tuesday, Gary Neville has picked an all time XI of players he has played with and what a brilliant team it is.
Having retired earlier in the year following an illustrious career that saw him pick up 8 Premier League titles, 3 FA Cups and a European Cup the defender has played with a number of quality players. One of Fergie’s Fledgling, part of the treble winning side as well as one of our most entertaining sides in recent times (06/07) Neville had a plethora of players to call upon so who made the final cut?
Goalkeeper: Along with a number of duds Neville has been lucky enough to play infront of two of the games finest in Peter Schmeichel and Edwin van der Sar. A tough choice for any so for Neville it came down to this:
The only way I could split them is the fact that Peter did it at Old Trafford for longer. But it is a tough choice.
Defenders: Stam, Pallister, Bruce, Vidic, Ferdinand, Irwin, Evra with just 4 spots in the backline it’s obvious someone will miss out so this will have been a hard for him.
At right back he picked ‘Mr Dependable’ Denis Irwin who ‘rarely put a foot wrong’ allowing him then to pick Patrice Evra at left back who he called ‘a great performer and one of the best in the world’.
Picking his central defensive pairing appeared to cause him a bit of trouble as he initially picked Vidic and Stam but then changed his mind to Rio and Vida. He described Vida as ‘the best I have seen’ and their pairing as ‘the best I have seen in United shirts.’
The four were poetry in motion with a bite you would not believe. That midfield combination had everything. It had legs, tenacity, passing, dribbling, energy and defensive capabilities.
It’s hard to argue with that!
Forwards: For Gary there was one cert: Cristiano Ronaldo and after that it was debatable. Ronaldo was a constant threat add that and the goals he scored and his place was certified:
The goals he scored for United added to the fact he had so much ability to frighten players means he is a must. For three years from around 2006 to 2009 Cristiano was the best player in the world and that is why he has to be in.
So that leaves one more spot then Ruud, Ole, Cole, Yorke, Cantona, Rooney? So many to choose from but for Neville it was Rooney who he feels should get the kind of respect the players who have retired get citing the fact he has helped United get to 3 CL finals in 4 years. Leaving Cantona out was clearly a hard choice for him though calling the Frenchman ‘The Messiah’!
Tickets for Neville’s testimonial against Juventus are still available, call the club’s ticket office on 0161 868 8000