Gary Neville has defended his decision to snub Peter Schmeichel’s handshake when the pair found themselves on opposite sides of the Manchester derby in 2002.
When Manchester United travelled to Maine Road for the first local derby of the season, Red Devils captain Gary Neville clearly wasn’t too pleased to see Peter Schmeichel in the tunnel.
After leaving United following United’s treble-winning 1998/99 season, Schmeichel went to Sporting Lisbon for two years before he spent a year with Aston Villa.
In 2002, the Danish goalkeeper signed for United’s fierce rivals Manchester City and his experience saw him handed the captain’s armband when City hosted Alex Ferguson’s side.
As Schmeichel greeted some of his former teammates, he let Neville know that he was standing on the wrong side of the tunnel and offered his hand but the United right-back completely ignored him.
“When you look back now and you’re in your forties, like I am, there’s two things about that,” Neville said on the Quickly Kevin, Will He Score? podcast. “One, he left Man United at the age of whatever he was, 35, and he said he was retiring, basically to go abroad.
“At the time when he came back, he played for Manchester City. You can’t play for Manchester City. I’m a United fan and I can’t play for Manchester City, I can’t play for Leeds and I can’t play for Liverpool. That’s just written in stone. You just don’t play for those clubs, irrespective of what happens.
“He’d won the treble with United in ’99, said that he was retiring…he should have carried on playing for United for the next two or three years if that was the case. We struggled for a ‘keeper between Peter and Edwin (van der Sar).”
Neville, a fierce competitor, has previously revealed that Schmeichel had not been the kindest to him when he broke into the team but it was the fact that the goalkeeper was wearing a City shirt that inspired the snub.
Neville was never a fan of shaking hands before matches and he didn’t even shake the hand of brother Phil when he left for Everton.
“Shake hands at the end of the game when you’ve had the battle,” Neville continued.
“I just think, I’m focusing before a game. I’m focusing on my first pass – which wasn’t always a good one – my first touch, my first tackle, my opponent and how I’m going to affect him in the first five minutes of that game.
“So you say about not shaking hands with Peter Schmeichel, but I didn’t shake hands with my brother when he was captain of Everton.
“And that’s not because I don’t like my brother – I do like him, he’s all right.”
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