Neville calls it a day
United stalwart and former England international hangs up boots
By Elliot Ball - follow me on Twitter @ballell. Last Updated: 03/02/11 9:45am
Manchester United have confirmed defender Gary Neville has announced his retirement from football.
"Gary was the best English right-back of his generation, he is an example to any young professional."
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The former England right-back, who made over 600 appearances for the Red Devils, has hung up his boots with immediate effect.
Neville has not played for United since the New Year's Day victory over West Bromwich Albion, when he was fortunate not to be dismissed for a professional foul on Graham Dorrans.
It was the 35-year-old's 602nd appearance for the Red Devils - the only club he ever played for.
Neville, who is England's most decorated right back with 85 caps, said: "I have been a Manchester United fan all my life and fulfilled every dream I've ever had.
"Obviously I am disappointed that my playing days are at an end, however it comes to us all, and it's knowing when that time is and for me that time is now.
"I have played in the most incredible football teams, playing with some of the best players in the world as well as against them and I have been lucky to be a part of the team's achievements and the club's great success.
"There are so many people I want to thank and of course top of that list is Sir Alex Ferguson.
"He has given me so many opportunities and countless support over the last 20 years, he is truly one of the greatest managers and I have to thank him for that.
"There have also been so many great players that I have had the privilege to train and play along side. The experiences we've shared will be with me for the rest of my life.
"Also all the coaches I have played under from youth level right through to now, who have guided me through my playing days. And finally, the fans, who have always shown me unbelievable support, they know how special they are to me and this club.
"I am looking forward to new experiences and the club will always be a part of my life going forward however the most important thing now is for the club to continue with the success that is synonymous with Manchester United and I will be supporting them all the way, as a fan."
It will be interesting to see what direction Neville's life now takes after being touted as a potential coach at United - the defender was mentioned as a possible successor to reserve team boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who has returned to Norway to take charge at Molde.
And Ferguson waxed lyrical on the former Old Trafford stalwart, saying: "Gary was the best English right-back of his generation.
"He is an example to any young professional; hard-working, loyal and intelligent. As a United fan born and bred, his fantastic career at Old Trafford has cemented his place in the affection of the club's supporters everywhere.
"His impact on the club in general has been huge; his presence in the dressing room and leadership qualities have been an asset to me as a manager.
"All the young players who have sought his advice on many matters, particularly on contract issues owe him a great debt.
"As a young boy he had the will and determination to succeed as a footballer and that character remained with him throughout his career which is the legacy he leaves every young player at Manchester United."