Gary Neville: The Last of a Dying Breed and a Blueprint for Success

Ryan RodgersContributor IFebruary 3, 2011

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 17:  Gary Neville of Manchester United celebrates at the end of  the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Manchester United at the City of Manchester Stadium on April 17, 2010 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

602 games later, 19 dedicated years to United and 85 caps for England, Gary Neville has finally retired. 

At 35 years old, Neville becomes the first of Fergies fledglings to retire. Arguably one of the most talented right backs of his day, Neville epitomized Manchester United with un-dieing loyalty and servitude to his club.

Teams that played against Neville always had something lowly to say about him.

Liverpool fans will recall 2006, when he excessively and provocatively kissed his badge in front of Liverpool supporters after Rio Ferdinands winner. A self proclaimed Scouser hater, Liverpool fans had many reasons to bash Neville.

Arsenal fans will recall his bust up in the tunnel with Viera, when Viera told Neville what would happen to him if he were to roughhouse Reyes again. This led to an explosive Roy Keane and Patrick Viera nearly coming to fists in the tunnel prior to the match.

However, as quickly as people bash on Neville for his lack of skill, fans of opposing teams only wish they had a player as dedicated, fierce, outspoken and commited as Neville lining up for their team.

In the similar mold of Roy Keane, Neville was cast in fire, passion and loyalty, a true footballing warrior. No stranger to controversy, Neville always had an opinion and was always outspoken. His strength of character, dedication to his club and his success was down to sheer force of will and loyalty. 

In the modern game where players have rehearsed and cliche answers to questions, Neville always spoke his mind and heart, regardless of the consequence or ramifications.

Neville embodied the solidarity commitment to the club and work hard attitude that embodies Manchester United. Loyal counterparts Giggs and Scholes, along with Neville have passed down the traditions and commitment that will benefit the current crop of Fergies fledglings.

Although there may have been more talented right backs in Neville's time, no right back possessed the same qualities and traits that Neville possessed. What Neville lacked in natural talent was made up by sheer desire and perserverance.

When other more gifted players failed or cracked under pressure, Neville remained resurgent and determined.

Neville proved that having heart, passion and dedication can make up for what meager skills one has. Neville should be a role model for all soccer players by proving that hard work, and motivation can at times mean even more than natural skill. 

Players that are striving for the next level should follow Neville's blueprint of loyalty and motivation for ultimate success.