Gary Neville had some huge boots to fill when he took over as Manchester United captain.
It was inevitable that Gary Neville would wear the Man United armband at some stage of his career but the challenge of replacing Roy Keane as the leader in the dressing room was going to be a daunting task for anyone.
Neville took to the role with aplomb but the right-back admitted that he wanted to give up the captaincy when injuries began limiting his ability to play week-in, week-out.
Midway through his spell as Red Devils skipper, Neville actually approached Sir Alex Ferguson and asked to be replaced as captain but the legendary United manager wasn’t having it.
Apparently concerned by the potential disruption that Neville’s abdication would have on the dressing room, Ferguson demanded Neville keep the captaincy but rotate the armband with Ryan Giggs.
“I got injured a year after taking the captaincy and that became really difficult for me,” Neville told Sky Sports.
“It felt as though I wasn’t contributing like a captain should be for my last four years. I actually went to see Sir Alex in pre-season about the third year I was captain.
“We had an amazing team: Ronaldo, Rooney, Tevez, Giggs, Scholes, Carrick, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Van der Sar… there were some great personalities and players in that group.
“I went over to Sir Alex walking onto the training pitch and said, ‘I don’t feel worthy of keeping the captaincy anymore. This team is to a level I can’t compete at’.
“He said, ‘You’ll keep that f***ing armband, son.’ The reason he gave me: ‘You and Giggs will rotate it. If I give it to Ronaldo, Rooney will kick off. If I give it to Rooney, Ronaldo will kick off. If I give it to Vidic, Ferdinand won’t be happy’.
“So literally I think me and Giggsy kept it for three or four years beyond that just purely because of the fact of the camaraderie in the dressing room. We were the policemen if you like, the older statesmen.
“Sir Alex wanted to make sure the team came first. Even though I felt unworthy as a captain at that stage.”