• Football

Neville hails 'influential' Beckham

ESPN staff
May 16, 2013
Gary Neville has hailed former England team-mate David Beckham for his impact on English football © PA Photos

Gary Neville has hailed his close friend and former team-mate David Beckham as 'the most influential player of his generation' after the 38-year-old England icon called time on his football career.

Neville, who was best man as Beckham married his wife Victoria back in 1999, has declared his former Manchester United and England colleague deserves to be recognised as one of the greatest ambassadors of English football after a career that saw him win honours in four different countries.

"When you think back on the way football has changed over the last 22 years, he has probably been the most influential player in that time in terms of transforming football," Neville told Sky Sports.

"Every clothing garment he wore, every hairstyle was followed, not just in football but out of football, but first and foremost he would like to be remembered as a hard working football player.

"After Alex Ferguson's retirement, another globally influential figure is now retiring from the game and he's going out on a high, having just won the title with Paris Saint-Germain. This feels like the right time for him to do it.

"You look at his career as a footballer and think 'wow', he's got an incredible array of caps and medals, an incredible longevity."

Neville hopes Beckham's career is given the credit it deserves after he claimed a glut of honours with Manchester United, Real Madrid, LA Galaxy and PSG and he believes he deserves to be remembered a true Old Trafford great.

"He played in the greatest midfield I've ever played with," Neville added. "David, Ryan Giggs, Roy Keane and Paul Scholes. David was a crosser of the ball, a passer of the ball. He had incredible stamina and energy. He was a joy to play with."

Neville confirmed that Beckham intents to 'return home' to London after calling time on his playing career and has no intention of becoming a manager or taking up a permanent role in the media.

He went on to confirm that his colleague is eager to be part of a consortium that owns a club one day, fuelling speculation that he may revive his stated aim of being a part of an MLS franchise in the years to come.

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