MANCHESTER, England – Manchester United defender Gary Neville retired Wednesday after a 20-year career spent entirely with the club he supported as a boy.
Neville, who turns 36 on Feb. 18, signed with United in July 1991 and played 602 games during the team's most successful era. He combined with David Beckham to give Manchester United and England's national team a powerful right side
As vocal in his dislike of Liverpool as he was in support of United, Neville won the Champions League, eight Premier League titles, three FA Cups, two League Cup titles, the Intercontinental Cup and the Club World Cup. His career was curtailed during the past four years by recurring injuries.
"Gary was the best English right back of his generation," United manager Alex Ferguson said. "He is an example to any young professional: hardworking, 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."
Neville had seven goals and made 85 appearances for England, a record for right backs. He played at the 1998 and 2006 World Cups, then missed the 2002 and 2010 tournaments because of injury or lack of match practice.
"I have been a Manchester United fan all my life and fulfilled every dream I've ever had," Neville said. "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.
"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 have been part of the team's achievements and the club's great success."
With Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt and brother Phil Neville, Neville graduated from the team that won the FA Youth Cup in 1992 to provide the platform for United's dominance of English soccer.
Stung by the failure to win a trophy in 1996, Ferguson sold stalwarts Paul Ince, Mark Hughes and Andrei Kanchelskis to open space for the youngsters.
Neville replaced Paul Parker as the starting right back as United immediately won the Premier League and FA Cup double.
"His presence in the dressing room and leadership qualities have been an asset to me as a manager," Ferguson said. "All the young players who have sought his advice on many matters, particularly on contract issues, owe him a great debt."