EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEWS

05/02/2011 10:00, Report by Stewart Gardner & Ben Hibbs
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Neville salutes Sir Alex

In the final part of Gary Neville's interview with MUTV, the defender talks about the influence of the boss...

What would you like to say about Sir Alex and his influence?
He’ll be regarded as the greatest football manager this game has ever seen. For me to have played under him for that long is incredible. He’s given me my opportunity. He always said he would do that if we were good enough. He’s always given players opportunities. I owe him everything. He put in place the vision of what Matt Busby created 50 years ago – bringing young players through, local lads who love the club, the heartbeat of the club. He could mould them into the players he wanted them to be. You can never replace what local lads bring, but we require other skills. So the foreign players complement those attributes. The local lads are the foundation. We’ve got that right through the squad. You mould these players into Manchester United people.

Over these past 20 years, can you say that there’s a best team you’ve played in?
The 1994 team - the power and strength and physique of that team was incredible; the 1999 team, obviously; and the 2006/07 team when Ronaldo and Rooney came of age and Vidic and Evra settled into the team, that was a really special six to eight months. I got injured towards the end of that season, but I thought we were brilliant and it didn’t surprise me that team went on to win the European Cup. That was probably as enjoyable as it could be. But for my injury I’d probably have gone on to play in that team, but those three stand out. For achievement, you’d have to say the 1999 team.

You mentioned the injury in 2007, against Bolton. You were out for a long time, was that the beginning of the end?
You’d have to say it was. My touch wasn’t great and Gary Speed smashed me, which I’d have done to him in the same position! I didn’t come back for 12 months. The ankle was probably five or six months, then I got knock-on injuries. To miss a year at that age, football moves on so quickly. That was a

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