Gary Neville: The Hug of the Year

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If the English Premier League gave out awards like MTV, then Gary Neville and Wayne Rooney would win for this jump-hug. Maybe the EPL will start to at least give awards out for celebrations…but this is surely the hug of the year, right.

I like Gary Neville. He puts his heart and soul into the of soccer game. He bleeds the red of Manchester United. He’s not the fastest player but he’s a fighter. Giving Tevez the finger? He would have killed Tevez if Ferguson told him to…He’s not one to be punked with.

However, it just might be Neville’s last year at Manchester United. There are whispers of this in the media. Neville is 35 years old. But I doubt it, as he’s put in a few strong games of late. It was his cross that Rooney nodded home against AC Milan at Old Trafford for the first goal.

Neville isn’t the most athletic of players, not a born jumper or born with much speed, but he still wins head balls, or at least gets his elbow up there to cause havoc. He doesn’t have a ton of skill on the ball but he knows the game. And moreover, he can still cross, pass and tackle.

The assist to Rooney seemed to mean a bit more to Neville though. It was a hug Neville held for a while longer. It wasn’t a quickie. And thankfully for Neville, Rooney didn’t say push him away after a period of time. That would have been a little embarrassing. It was a full embrace as you can see in the image below. If there was an award for best hug in the EPL, this would be it.

Neville’s up for a contract. He couldn’t do like his brother Phil and start over at a new team like Everton. He doesn’t have much time left playing the game.

Was the tight hug held a bit longer than usual just for Rooney? Since Rooney’s been playing like the best player in the world this season? Or was it because the cross and goal would give Neville a boost of confidence in his own right?

No, it was probably a little of everything. I think the hug was a glimpse into how much he loves playing in big games, Champion League games with the house full and everyone on their feet, his old friend Beckham back at home, and how he just wants to keep playing in big games for Manchester United.

“I have got to decide what I want to do myself first,” he said “Obviously the club will play a big part in that and I need to speak to the manager because he will have a big say in it as well. But really, I am not even thinking about it.

“At my age I just want to stay fit and concentrate on the last two months of the season. I will look at it then. I have my own idea but for the time being I want to concentrate on football.”

He’s earned another one or two-year contract with the time he’s put in over the years, nearly 20 at Manchester. He’s no Giggs, but his grit and heart are all Manchester United.

What’s more, with all the recent injuries to defenders and Wayne Bridge’s exit from the national team. Neville may even get a chance to play for England again. Neville has played for his country for three years, but has never retired from the team. If Capello calls he’s said he’s ready.

Here’s what Alex Ferguson had to say about Neville yesterday:

“Gary is a great player and a remarkable man,” said Sir Alex Ferguson.

“When you are out of the game for 18 months it is never going to be an easy road back to playing every week. Not at 35.

“He succeeds because he has the will. That is what Gary Neville is about.”

Here are some highlights from Gary Neville’s time at Manchester United. While he hasn’t scored a ton of goals for United he has whipped in a ton of crosses and giving out a few jump hugs.

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