Gary Alexander Neville (born February 18, 1975 in Bury, Greater Manchester) is an English football player. He is England's most capped right full back and Manchester United's club captain. Neville started at and has played his entire career so far at Old Trafford, making him to date a rare one club man. He made his international debut in 1995 and has been first choice right back for club and country for more than ten years.
He is the brother of fellow Premier League footballer and Everton captain Phil Neville, who was also a Manchester United player (from 1993 until 2005). His sister Tracey Neville plays netball for England, his mother Jill is a receptionist for Bury and his father Neville Neville was once a cricketer for Lancashire.
Gary Neville made his senior debut for United in September 1992 against Torpedo Moscow in the UEFA Cup. Gary emerged as part of Alex Ferguson's phenomenal youth-oriented side of the 1990s (nicknamed Fergie's Fledglings, an updated take on the 1950s equivalent Busby Babes) that included his brother Phil, Ryan Giggs, David Beckham, Nicky Butt and Paul Scholes. He became a regular choice at right back in 1994 and has remained so ever since. In the summer of 2004 Neville signed a four-year contract with United.
In December 2005, Gary was appointed the new captain of Manchester United, following Roy Keane's departure.
In January 2006, his actions were the subject of some controversy after his celebration in front of the visiting Liverpool fans at Old Trafford, when he was seen to run from the half-way line towards the opposing fans to celebrate the 90th minute injury-time winning headed goal by United defender Rio Ferdinand. His actions were criticized by Liverpool player Jamie Carragher, sections of the media and police who blamed him for disturbances between fans after the game. He was subsequently charged with improper conduct by the Football Association. Neville contested this, asking if it was preferable for players to act like "robots" and show no emotions. He was fined £5,000 and warned about his future conduct.
Thus far, Gary Neville has won seven Premiership titles, three FA Cups, two European Cup and one League Cup, the last of which was his first trophy as captain.
Neville recovered from an injury suffered against Bolton in March 2007 and in his first match back, a reserve game against Everton in January 2008, he scored a rare goal in the 21st minute of the game which helped Manchester United to a 2-2 draw.
On April 9 2008, Neville made his long awaited comeback against A.S. Roma in the UEFA Champions League, quarter-final, second-leg at Old Trafford as an 81st minute substitute for Anderson. Neville was welcomed back to the pitch with a standing ovation, and was promptly given the captain's armband. It was Neville's 99th Champions League appearance. He is set to return to the first team in 2008-09 season after he succesfully has been declared fit to play.'
Neville made his first appearance for England in 1995 when he was picked by Terry Venables for the friendly against Japan. On 23 May 1996, he was joined in the England team by his brother Phil Neville for a match against China; they had also appeared together in the 1996 FA Cup Final two weeks earlier and thus were the first pair of brothers to play together in an FA Cup-final winning side and for England in the same season since Hubert and Francis Heron in 1877, 119 years earlier.
He has been the first choice right back for his country ever since, playing for five different coaches. He was the only player above 30 years of age to be selected in Steve McClaren's first squad in 2006, with the omission of David Beckham, David James, and Sol Campbell (though these three would later all be recalled).
Neville is considered a good candidate, injury permitting, to achieve 100 appearances for England; or, at the very least, become his country's most capped full back overall - Kenny Sansom, the former Crystal Palace and Arsenal left back, currently holds that honour with 86 caps. The emergence of teenager Micah Richards and form of Manchester United club-mate Wes Brown has placed his position in the England team under threat, though he is expected to be recalled to the England squad once his fitness is regained.
He had been the youngest first choice player in the England first team during Euro 96, his first tournament, playing in each game until the semi-final, when he was suspended and England were subsequently knocked out by eventual winners, Germany. He also played in the 1998 FIFA World Cup and Euro 2000. A broken foot put paid to his hopes of playing the 2002 FIFA World Cup, but he quickly returned to the side after regaining his fitness, and was once again the first choice right back by the time of Euro 2004.
Neville missed the latter stages of the qualification campaign for the 2006 World Cup with injury. He returned to the England team in March 2006 for a friendly against Uruguay.
As expected, Neville was selected for England's 2006 World Cup squad. He played in his normal position of right back in England's opening Group B game against Paraguay. However, Neville pulled his calf in training the night before the team's second game against Trinidad & Tobago. He was forced to miss that game, the team's final group game against Sweden, and England's round of sixteen game against Ecuador.
He returned to training on June 27, and played the full match, including extra time, in England's losing quarter-final against Portugal on July 1. It was his 81st England cap, taking him a clear ninth in the all-time rankings, ahead of Gary Lineker and team-mate Michael Owen, who had briefly drawn level with Neville during the World Cup.
Neville also took over the England captaincy during this game after the substitution of David Beckham due to an injury shortly after half-time, despite the previous match's deputy captain John Terry also being on the field.
After the defeat to Portugal, Neville announced that he would continue to be available for selection for his country under new coach Steve McClaren and added that, unlike some former international team-mates, he would not ever make the decision to retire from the England set-up, stating: "That decision is not Gary Neville's to make". As one of three club captains (along with Terry and Steven Gerrard) in the first choice England line-up, he was mentioned as a contender for the England captaincy which Beckham vacated after elimination from the World Cup. However, he was clearly an outsider and Terry was given the job and Steven Gerrard made vice-captain.
On October 11, Neville was involved in a game-changing incident during a Euro 2008 qualifier against Croatia when his straightforward backpass took an unfortunate bounce and caused goalkeeper Paul Robinson to miss his kick, which resulted in the ball ending up in the net. Although Robinson was at the centre of the moment, Neville had to be officially credited with an own goal, the second of his England career.
On February 7, 2007, Neville won his 85th cap in England's 1-0 friendly defeat to Spain. His appearance took him to within one cap of equalling Sansom's record for an England full back, and eighth in the all-time appearances list for his country. However, an ankle injury suffered on March 17 2007 while playing for Manchester United robbed him of the chance to equal and then beat Sansom's record, as he was forced to miss the Euro 2008 qualifiers against Israel and Andorra on March 24 and 28 respectively. Surgery on his ankle ruled him out of two summer matches at the new Wembley, and then a calf muscle injury delayed his recovery in the autumn. He now will not be able to become England's most capped full back until the summer of 2008 at the earliest.
These injury problems have threatened to put an end to Neville's international playing career prematurely. After Steve McClaren was sacked rumours surfaced that he might be approached to become part of the new management setup. This would be likely to involve working as a defensive coach and motivational figure in the dressing room under whichever manager the FA choose to appoint. This is now unlikely to happen as Fabio Capello has been appointed as England manager.
Neville does hold or co-hold a number of England records already:
Neville has now appeared at least once for England in each of the last 13 years, a feat which is bettered only by Billy Wright and Peter Shilton (14 consecutive years) and the record holder David Seaman (15 consecutive years). He has yet to appear in 2008, however.
Gary has a reputation as a "union" figure within the England camp — he was allegedly the ringleader of an idea to boycott an important Euro 2004 qualifier in Turkey in support of teammate Rio Ferdinand who had been issued with a ban for missing a drug test. The strike never occurred and the match went ahead. He was believed to be behind a similar player protest in support of Alan Smith after the striker was dropped from the England squad because of his arrest related to an alleged off-the-field indiscretion, later proven to be untrue. Gary was also thought to be the chief instigator of the England players' snub of the British press and media after a match. The public perception of these incidents has led to Gary being lampooned in the media, for example his dubbing by the often-irreverent website Football365, as "Citizen Neville" (after Citizen Smith), while another cited nickname is "Red Nev". Neville's face has since frequently been superimposed onto the iconic image of Che Guevara in a range of contexts, including a humorous t-shirt. For some followers of football this has turned Neville from a hate figure, reviled for his devotion to Manchester United to a cult figure, celebrated for the loyalty he shows for his club, in a 2002 Premier League fixture versus Manchester City, Gary was seen in a match tunnel, then Peter Schmeichel approached him for a handshake, Neville rejected this, simply because Schmeichel was at Manchester City at the time.'
In 2005, Gary prompted another debate in the aftermath of an England game against the Netherlands, which had been used to promote the "Let's kick racism out of football" campaign. Gary questioned whether certain corporate sponsors involved in the match believed in the cause enough to justify the publicity they received.
Gary has a long standing relationship with the Mediterranean island of Malta, he has been an official tourism ambassador since 2001 and works with Air Malta to promote the country which he has regularly visited since childhood. In return the Malta Tourism Authority and Air Malta sponsor the Gary Neville Soccer School on the island, which Gary tutors at every summer.
He is currently on the Management Committee of the Professional Footballers' Association.
Major Honours Only