Neville’s passion (January 2006)

The fierce rivalry between Manchester United and Liverpool FC is one of the biggest battles in world football, let alone in the English game. When the sides met at Old Trafford in January 2006, it was a confrontation to see which side would turn out to be Chelsea’s distant challengers in the Premier League.

Liverpool arrived confident in Manchester, having won 11 of their last 12 league fixtures and had the best opportunity of a tight contest, wasted by Djibril Cisse. In stoppage-time, Manchester United claimed all three points thanks to a brilliant header from Rio Ferdinand.

As Ferdinand and the team celebrated infront of their supporters, Gary Neville showed his passion for the shirt he was wearing. He charged down the pitch some 60 yards to celebrate right infront of the Liverpool supporters. There were no rude gestures as he unleashed his joy showing the pride of the badge of his club infront of their greatest rivals.

There was a provocative edge towards his celebration but he was fighting the cause of his club and a last-minute winner against the enemy is a sweet moment, no matter who you are. The FA took a dim view though. They charged the right-back with misconduct and he was given a £5,000 fine.

Neville accepted the fine but was less than impressed by the decision. He said: “It’s a poor decision, not just for me but for all footballers. And I ask the authorities: ‘where is football being taken?” Using sarcasm, his final point was: “Being a robot, devoid of passion and spirit, is obviously the way forward for the modern-day footballer.”

Gary Neville has since gone on to be one of the best pundits on television for Sky Sports since his retirement from the game in 2011. There are few men who have shown as much passion for Manchester United than what he does – both in his playing days and in his current capacity as a match analyst.

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