I always stayed glued to the television screen whenever Gary ran up and down the right flank since 1999. I really miss Gary Neville.
Everyone has their footballing idol. Nowadays, there would be the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka, Wesley Sneijder, Cesc Fabregas, Lionel Messi and many more. My time had my friends admiring Del Piero, Dennis Bergkamp, Ryan Giggs, David Beckham and even Jesper Blomqvist!
I started football late. Very late. I started playing at the age of 14, going 15, back in 1999. To make matters worse, I chose to be a centre back, a position which demands experience and presence. Something which I have none at all! After my first disastrous football game, my best friend, Jeremy Dee, told me that playing as a right back might be a good start for me. I am glad that I took his advice and I watched every Manchester United’s league game observing the full backs.
There he was! A player with the number ’2′ on his back with the name ‘G. Neville’ printed above it. The way he defended, ran up and down the right flank supporting David Beckham. His energy, his enthusiasm, his determination and, to top it all off, his passion got me hooked. I decided that whenever I set foot on the pitch, I want to become like Gary Neville. Not the most talented of United players but his undying effort to win the ball and defend for Manchester United alongside Roy Keane and Peter Schmeichel got me so wanting to become like them!
I tried observing Javier Zanetti, Dennis Irwin and many more but they are just not the same. I applied what I saw onto the pitch and I was doing great! We won and lost equal amount of games but people take notice of my partnership with Jeremy. They labelled us as ‘The Wall’ on the right-half of defence. Wingers and forwards had to face my aggressive and no-nonsense approach doubled by Jeremy’s more technical defending and stamina. When it comes to defensive headers, I am all over but interestingly, I have never scored one before. Once, nobody dared to head a goalkeeper’s punt except for me and it resulted a counter-attack.
Gary’s appointment as captain of Manchester United in 2005 got me celebrating but it was cut short due to the string of injuries he has. I know how it feels just to be sidelined for six months with a troubled right knee back in 2000. I feel happy for him for the titles he won. It goes to show how well he integrated himself into the talented team of Manchester United.
I too won titles by following Gary’s footsteps. Most importantly, it has to come from within.
- 1999 & 2000 Inter-Class Champions
- 2001 NDP Cup Winners
- 2004/05 IVP Floorball Runners-up
YOU can make the difference!
Thank YOU, Gary Neville! For your service and lessons I learnt a decade ago.