Belfast Telegraph

Steven Beacom: I can’t stand Gary Neville, but we’ve him to thank for Beckham

Over the next few days you are going to read a lot about David Beckham. Nothing unusual in that you may say. This time though it should be on the back pages.

Becks did an interview recently where the love just poured out of him. Victoria needn’t worry though, he was talking about Manchester United — his first love.

Expressing how much the club meant to him, he revealed that he would not celebrate if he scored for AC Milan in their Champions League tie against United.

The first leg is at the San Siro next Tuesday with the return at Old Trafford a few weeks later.

“That is going to be one emotional night,” said Becks in reference to his much anticipated return to Manchester.

He won’t be the only misty-eyed player at the Theatre of Dreams that evening.

A certain Gary Neville might just be welling up as well.

I’ve never really been a big fan of Neville, the person. He’s an obnoxious so-and-so. A bit of a busy-body. Always causing trouble. More enemies than the USA. And lacking any sort of class. While United stalwarts Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes are revered all over the world, Neville is rejected as a figure of hate.

As a footballer though, up until the last couple of years when injuries and ‘father time’ have caught up with him, I’ve always had respect for his ability.

In fact I’d say over the past 20 years, in which he has EIGHT league titles and TWO Champions Leagues, he’s been one of the most undervalued players in the Premier League. Maybe that’s got something to do with the fact he’s so despised, but that shouldn’t detract from what he has brought to Manchester United and to England.

And to his best buddy Beckham, who once stated that he would happily trust Neville in the same room with Posh Spice naked! I think you could trust your Mrs there too, David.

Before going out with a pop star, wearing sarongs, getting hit by a flying boot from Fergie, moving to Madrid and trying to conquer America, Becks made his name by driving up the right flank and delivering inviting crosses for the likes of Teddy Sheringham, Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke to head home.

And who was his wing man?

Gary Neville, son of Neville Neville. He was right behind Beckham in every sense, providing support and allowing his good looking mate to flourish while he, very much, stayed in the background.

Neville has been making a few headlines of his own this season, of course, while Becks has been relatively quiet, playing steadily for Milan in order to keep Fabio Capello happy and go to the World Cup.

But you know with Goldenballs there is just another story around the corner. And you can bet it will come against United.

I’m not sure he’ll score, but a bizarre sending off may be a decent bet.

Regardless of what happens though, he’ll put an arm around his pal Gary and reflect on old times. And maybe he should utter a word of thanks to Neville because without him, I believe Becks may not have become the global superstar he is now.

Belfast Telegraph

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