premier league news

Gary Neville feared Man United career was over

September 9, 2010
By ESPNsoccernet staff

Manchester United defender Gary Neville has revealed he thought he was about to be released by the club at the end of last season.

Gary Neville, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs
GettyImagesVeterans like Neville, Scholes and Giggs are in the twilight of their careers

• Neville aims dig at City

Neville, who did not sign a new one-year deal until the end of April, believed he had just three weeks left at the club before finally joining fellow veterans Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes in signing a new deal.

"I turned round during training one morning and said 'I have three games to go at Manchester United','' said Neville at a sponsorship announcement for Singha Beer. "I had not spoken to the club and I genuinely felt it could be the last three weeks.

"The club didn't owe me anything and I was more than happy. I was enjoying myself. In some ways, my best football came in a period I thought I was just going to enjoy.

"Because of my injuries, I have thought about the fact I might have to find something else. Two years ago I thought it would be my last season. Obviously last year I felt the same. I recognise this one could be as well.

"I am on a one-year contract. If I don't perform or I feel the club don't want me anymore I will be gone. That is life. In the 19 years I have been here, it has happened to better players. What keeps me going is the thought of running out at Old Trafford and winning trophies.

"It is all I have known since I came to my first match when I was four. If I was anywhere else I would struggle. At this stage of my career, my motivation is to extract every since ounce of enjoyment I can. I want to contribute to a team that can win things. That is all I have ever wanted to do.

"My career has been in three distinct parts. I had the pre-first-team time, then from 19 to nearly 33, it was virtually flawless. I was always on the teamsheet and regularly playing nearly 50 games a season. Then I got the injury and was missing for 18 months. Coming back I felt as though the game had moved on and found it really difficult to adapt.

"It was like I had to learn to adapt to my own body. I was training differently.

"I feel as though I am starting again. I have had to build myself up from the bottom. Now I have to target 30 games.

"There are periods where I have to be ready for the manager to use me. You can almost tell when those times will be. Coming up to Christmas when the pitches start to get a bit rougher and experience is required. Post-Christmas when some of the younger players have had six months and need a rest.

"My first games this season will probably be in the Carling Cup and lesser games. I know there will be some point in the season where the manager needs me. I have to be ready for that moment.''