Gary Neville claims he “conned” himself, Sir Alex Ferguson and Man Utd by staying for another season and was left “embarrassed” by not retiring a campaign earlier.
Neville won eight Premier League titles, three FA Cups, two League Cups and two Champions Leagues during his time at Man Utd before retiring in 2011.
Following a bad injury, Neville’s appearances for Man Utd became more sporadic from 2007 onwards and the former England international wishes he’d retired a bit earlier than he did.
Neville told Sky Sports: “I actually planned it as Jamie [Carragher] had that I was going to finish at the end of the season, I had actually agreed to come to Sky and I, like Jamie, had been offered a job in the coaching of the youth side of things.
“But from my point of view, I finished the previous season to when I did retire with a really good last ten or 12 games. Conned maybe me, the manager, David Gill into well ‘look there’s one more season in me’.
“I’d made my mind up I was leaving. Of I’d finished then it would have been perfect and I actually went on and took another season and that last season – obviously it finished in January – I retired in January which was an absolute disaster.
“It was easier for me Kelly because I had that injury when I was 32, so my last three-and-a-half years were disrupted heavily by injury, nowhere near the level of the other players. I was amongst an incredible team, you know, that team I mentioned the other day with Rooney, Tevez, Vidic, Ferdinand, Van der Sar, Evra, Cristiano Ronaldo, it was an incredible team.
“So I felt it every day in training that I was inferior and Jamie mentioned about being a little bit embarrassed or letting the team down, in that last six to eight months I was at the club I felt embarrassed. I didn’t want to be picked, I knew that I was a risk when I went out on the pitch and in training every single day I was looking at Rafael, I was looking at the other lads, the energy and speed of the game, it had shifted beyond me.
“It was obvious for me to see and not even my experience really was covering the sort of yards, if you can’t get there you can’t get there, and you start up taking bad positions. You think about the game at West Brom, it was a horror show performance from me for 62 minutes.
“How I didn’t get sent off, how I didn’t cost us more goals, the same I think at Stoke in the game before that in November and the same at Everton where we were 3-1 up and it finished 3-3 and the two goals came down my side.
“So, for me I had no choice, I was finished, I was done. At 31, 32 I was never going to play for another club so if United had said to me at 32 ‘Gary you’re done’ I would’ve retired at that age.”
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