‘They were a different level of talent to me!’ Gary Neville reveals how he was forced to switch from central midfield to right-back at Man United after Paul Scholes, David Beckham and Nicky Butt joined the club’s academy
- Gary Neville was a central midfielder when he joined Man United’s academy
- But he was forced to switch to right-back after an influx of talented players
- David Beckham, Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt pushed Neville into defence
- But Neville was able to make first-team breakthrough at right-back
- And he went on to make over 600 appearances for United in illustrious career
Gary Neville has revealed that he ended up playing right-back instead of in midfield when ‘talented’ trio David Beckham, Nicky Butt and Paul Scholes arrived in Manchester United’s academy.
The former England defender became an Old Trafford legend after playing 602 times for the club in a 19-year career, the vast majority of those appearances in the right-back position.
But it could have been very different for Neville, who played in midfield as a kid before being forced to adapt as he came through the United ranks.
Gary Neville has revealed how he switched from central midfield to right-back when the likes of Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt and David Beckham joined Manchester United’s academy
Neville went on to make over 600 appearances at right-back in an illustrious United career
Neville told Sky Sports: ‘I was a central midfield player at Manchester United as a 12, 13, 14-year-old.
‘Then David Beckham, Nicky Butt and Paul Scholes joined and all of a sudden, I was a right-back.
‘I thought ‘oh dear, I’ve got a bit of a problem here because there are some talented players that are a different level of talent than I am.’
‘They joined the club and I thought I better find a new position.
‘The club moved me to centre-back initially and then because of my height, and Steve Bruce and Gary Pallister in the first team, they moved me to right-back because Paul Parker had been picking up some injuries.
Neville admitted he wasn’t able to match the talent of the likes of Paul Scholes in midfield
Having adapted to the position, Neville formed an effective pairing with Beckham on the right
‘So I had to adapt over years and, to be honest, beggars cannot be choosers, so I was happy wherever I was as long as I was in the team.’
Neville was part of United’s famous Class of 92 group of academy graduates alongside Beckham, Butt, Scholes, Ryan Giggs and his brother Phil who would form the backbone of Alex Ferguson’s team for over 10 years.
His hugely successful Old Trafford career saw Neville win eight Premier League titles, three FA Cups, two League Cups and two Champions Leagues.
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