Neville calls time on career
Gary Neville is set to consider opportunities in coaching and television after ending his 19-year playing career at Manchester United with immediate effect last night in the wake of his omission from the club's Champions League squad.
A move into broadcasting with Sky, plus the possibility of a coaching role at United, following Alex Ferguson's admission that he wants Neville to "stay here" at Old Trafford, are both on the table for the former England defender.
Neville (35) had been widely expected to announce his playing retirement at the end of the season after falling to fourth-choice right-back at United in recent months. But with Ferguson choosing to omit Neville from his 25-man squad for the Champions League knock-out stages -- due to be announced tomorrow -- in order to accommodate goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard, the former United captain has chosen to retire now after making just four first-team appearances this season.
Neville, who made his 602nd and last United appearance against West Brom on New Year's Day, said: "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. It's about knowing when that time is and, for me, that time is now."
An ankle injury sustained against Bolton in March 2007 ultimately signalled the end of Neville's top-level career, with the problem restricting him to just one appearance in 18 months.
Following his return from that injury he struggled to secure a regular position and younger rivals such as Rafael da Silva, Wes Brown and Ireland defender John O'Shea have all knocked him further down the pecking order.
His omission from the Champions League squad proved unavoidable and with little prospect of competitive action in Ferguson's first-team between now and the end of the campaign.
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 is understood to be at the top of Sky's wanted list to replace Andy Gray, who was sacked due to sexist comments last week, as the station's leading football expert. First of all, however, Neville is set to be offered the chance to wave farewell to United fans prior to the Manchester derby against City next week. A testimonial is planned for the summer. (© Daily Telegraph, London)