Ever since, Neville's character and determination have never altered. "His performance level and drive have never changed," says Sir Alex. "It's more obvious in Gary because he never had the talent of Ryan Giggs or Paul Scholes, but he had determination to make sure he was always in the team.
"He also showed that quality to return after a year and a half out with injuries," adds the boss. "We all had concerns that maybe he wasn’t going to come back - at his age, it wasn’t easy. But he was absolutely fantastic. It was a demonstration by Gary that he was never going to give in. He’s an amazing man."
Although he missed out on United's Double success in 2008 due to injury, Neville added to his impressive honours collection with an eighth Premier League winners' medal in 2009 and a second Carling Cup triumph in 2010, after coming on as a substitute in the Wembley final against Aston Villa.
His enduring importance was recognised when the club extended his contract to keep him at OT until at least June 2011, but midway through the 2010/11 season he decided the time was right to retire.