Gary Neville Reveals the Pre-Match Rituals That Helped Him Carve Out Successful 20-Year Career
Former Manchester United star Gary Neville has revealed a number of superstitions and pre-match rituals he used to indulge in that helped him prepare for games across his 20-year playing career.
The 42-year-old, who now works for Sky Sports as one of their best-loved pundits, hung up his boots in 2011 after spending his entire career with United, and the former right-back has penned a long piece for the club's official website for the 25th anniversary of his debut about some aspects of his early days as a player at Old Trafford.
Nowadays, it is extremely common to see players exercising their little quirks in preparation for big games, and Neville was no exception.
He said: "Over the years, as part of that you develop a little routine, even down to being sat in the right seat on the coach or putting the right Tubigrip tape on. When I went back for Michael Carrick’s testimonial the other month, they didn’t have my tape. I couldn’t believe it. They’d had to keep that tape for 20 years. Had to. It was my tape. Tubigrip. D width. Not E. Not C. D width.
''And then two tie-ups, always cut with the same scissors. I used to have two tie-ups that you were supposed to cut with bandage scissors, but I always cut them with normal scissors because I couldn’t cut them with those weird scissors.
"Stupid things like that through my career had to be right. I sat in the players’ lounge toilets - the same cubicle - for 15 minutes. When the manager finished his team-talk, I’d get my kit on and go sit on the toilet, with the lid down, and just read the programme in complete peace for 15 minutes. Tranquillity. I did that every game.
"Even on the day before a game, coming off the training pitch on the day before the game, I used to zigzag sprint off the pitch. Every Friday. The new lads, the foreign lads who came in towards the end, say Ronaldo or Tevez, they’d be looking at me as if to say: What is this muppet doing?"
Neville also paid tribute to some of the stars that made his time as a defender much easier that it perhaps should have been.
He added: "What I found in my first 20 games for United was that Andrei was so good, most teams would drop their left winger to have a second left-back. That made it easier for me.
"Loads of times I was playing a game against no left winger because they had two left-backs against Andrei. I had Becks in front of me after that, so they had to stop his crosses. That meant the left winger would drop deep again. Then when you played with Ronaldo there were two left-backs on him. No wonder I played for 20-odd years!"