Gary Neville sat down for an exclusive interview with MUTV to talk about his decision to retire, and to look back on some of his best moments in his career. In the first of a three-part serialisation of that interview, Gary explains how he came to make his decision...
You caught a lot of people by surprise, can you take us through the chain of events that led to your announcement?
It wasn’t just on the day; something like that doesn’t come as immediately as that. It’s been a combination of events over the last few months and I’ve known for the last few weeks having spoken to the manager. You don’t go and do something like that so quickly. I went away for a week and still came to the same conclusion: it just felt like the right thing to do and that my time was up. When your time’s up, your time’s up.
You could have played until the end of the season. Why stop mid-season?
Sometimes you just go off gut instinct, it’s the type of person I am. I felt it was right. Having spoken with the manager, I’ll continue to go in until the end of the season but not in the capacity that I have been doing in the last 19 or 20 years. I’ll maybe work with some of the young players, but that will be until the end of the season. I played my last game against West Brom and came to the conclusion pretty quickly after that that I didn’t feel right and my time was up. I didn’t want to delay it for four months. In my mind, it just wouldn’t have felt right for me. I felt that, for the manager and the club and everything they have done for me, they should know that as well. They accepted it and supported me in my decision.
So you came to the decision after the game against West Brom on New Year's Day?
It wasn’t after that game, it was during that game! [Laughs] No, it was probably a month or so before that. You don’t just give up after one bad game – I’ve had enough of those over the last 20 years to know that it can happen! The way I felt, at the start of the season picking up those little injuries, your mentality at this club is just