Gary Neville Twitter Hero
Gary Neville was so much more than the finest right back of The Premiership. Gary Neville was so much more than the scorer of seven goals in 598 matches. Gary Neville is so much more than mere human. He is immune to hatred, Scousers and reason.
For better or worse, football’s new era was marked when Nick Hornby and Tim Lovejoy got on board. You can draw parallels with the bloody time of The Old Testament being The Time Before The Premiership. You can compare the Premiership to The New Testament. There’s less guts and blood, and it’s not really as much fun, but it still endures culturally. Now, I’m not saying Gary Neville is definitely Jesus. I think that’s for you to decide.
With sport on Sky, we get to watch the European Player of The Year on a muted screen in a pub. The availability of international and continental football on TV means we’re more knowledgeable from our armchairs than ever. Inevitably the world’s attention is attracted to fewer and fewer players like Drogba, Ronaldo and Messi. Yet Gary Neville is the one man who dominates the landscape of the beautiful game. He’s won the Champions League, the Premiership, the FA Cup, the League Cup, and The World Club Championship. He’s played in World Cups and European Championships. He’s captained his club to a trophy, and he’s one of only two English players to have played in three great Manchester United sides. He is more than a footballer, and more than a legend.
As well as all he’s done for football, he still looks out for the rest of humanity. A socialist who could afford to live in a private jet, permanently airborne and spewing out carbon garbage has turned all this down, and is willing to make a sacrifice for us and choose to build his own multimillion carbon neutral Neville pad.
A committed environmentalist, he still finds time to grow in the fashion world. The hair? An ironic comment on his teacher’s pet reputation, expertly deflecting any criticism for simply being the only one of the Kids of ‘94 that’s never fallen out with Fergie. The goatie expresses that he is now ready to prosyletise his style opinions, to give the world a chance to catch up. While he kept his devotion to looking good secret for the first thirty years of his life, it was always expressed vicariously. Do you think it was David Beckham’s idea to wear that sarong? Do you even think it was Victoria? Please. If there is anyone simultaneously so au fait with glamour, and yet so committed to pushing back the social and cultural taboo of transvestitism, to so maturely start metrosexual rebellion against homophobia and bigotry, then it’s Gary Neville. When you see David Beckham on the bus in his grundies, say a little prayer of thanks to Gary. When you’re paying more attention to your appearance than you would have ten years ago, it’s Gary. Again.
Nothing screams conspiracy more than his constant omission from GQ’s Most Stylish Man Of The Year. The only logical explanation besides conspiracy is that they’re holding back for his last full season, whereupon he secures Man Of The Year, before the award is fittingly retired in his honour. Let’s face it, anyone coming after will not be worthy. In fact, consider this: nothing highlights the absurd Che persecution more than the fact that he has never – never – won the most fitting award, the Nobel Peace Prize. If Kissinger can win it for his work for American foreign policy, turning everyone against the States, surely Neville deserves it for his tireless work in uniting thousands against the Bindippers.
While Alex Ferguson rode pillion across Europe to talk Eric Cantona out of retirement, the only person he’s done the same for is Gary Neville. This is the measure of the man. Approaching what is likely to be his final season in football before selflessly devoting himself to the kids of Malta, this swansong needs to be marked in some way. I only hope this can go some way. I yet feel ashamed, because I know this is not enough.
A version of this first appeared on sabotagetimes.com, but there you go