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Fighter

I was both nostalgic & sad about Solskjaer's retirement because it seemed a great career had been cut short. When Beckham left, I felt a gloomy disappointment about another quality player being sacrificed on the altar of the infamous Ferguson personality. When Keane quit amid the chaos, it was jarring; both for the abruptness of his departure & because I couldn't imagine him playing elsewhere. When Messrs Phil Neville and Nicky Butt were asked to go, there was a palpable sense of helpless inevitability about their departures (Update: A feeling has been somewhat vindicated by this). When Ronaldo finally f****d off, I was thankful the drama & nonsense was finally coming to an end.

On reading of Gary Neville's retirement, I thought, "Shit, there goes the last warrior". After Keane, Gary was the one Man United player who, in his prime, battled intelligently through the match, dominated it on the strength of his personality & not flash, a footballer who left no one in doubt about his passion for his team and the game.

In the modern day game, where most players genuflect in the face of Mammon, one of the last one-club footballers has hung up the boots. He may not be leaving with a cornucopia of adoring fans among the viewing public, but surely has the respect of his fellow professionals. For Gary Neville, that will probably be enough.

Song for the moment: Never will I break - 3 Doors Down   

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