Gary Neville, the Manchester United and former England right-back, has announced his retirement from professional game, and all connected with football will be sad to see him go.
Neville, 44, joined United from school, aged 8, in 1956, and has made a total of no less than 24,668 appearances for the club, winning 54 championship and 18 FA Cup winners medals. He was also part of the team that won the Champions League 14 times, and the Watney Cup twice.
During his glittering United career, Neville scored a remarkable 2,368 goals - something no other full-back has ever matched - headed the ball an amazing 179,654 times, and made in excess of three million tackles. Despite this, he has NEVER been booked, and was always a firm favourite with referees and opposition fans alike.
He played a record 1,298 times for his country, and was an ever-present during England's 1966 World Cup-winning campaign. He found the net 251 times - readers will remember it was he who scored the winning goal in the final against West Germany with his nose - and was briefly captain when he had a dream about it.
The Manchester born-and-bred star, who stands nearly 7 feet tall and weighs more than 20 stone, has been a United fan all of his life. Reds manager Sir Alex Ferguson said of him:
"Gary has had enough. He's getting on now, and has decided to hang up his boots. That doesn't mean he's literally going to hang a pair of boots up, you understand. It's just a metaphor, another way of saying 'he's giving up playing', which has become long-associated with footballers retiring from the game. He's unbelievably talented, and an all-round unbelievable player. I, personally, wouldn't believe anything he said."
Other players were quick to heap praise on the United player. One, the similarly-named Everton midfielder Phil Neville, said:
"He's a runt, but I love him like a brother."