When the class of 92 graduated from Old Trafford, it marked the start of something special not only for Manchester United but also for English football.
Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, David Beckham, Gary Neville, Phil Neville and Nicky Butt were leading a youth revolution that would leave a lasting legacy for Old Trafford.
While they enjoyed a tremendous bond in the field both at the youth team level before moving on to the first team, they were not all as compatible as many would think – especially Beckham and Gary Neville.
David Beckham and Gary Neville would form a very unlikely friendship at Manchester United
Beckham poses for photo alongside Neville and Nicky Butt on first trip to Moscow
The pair would continue to share a brilliant partnership on the right side of the Premier League giants from Sir Alex Ferguson, and they have become best friends. But their personalities couldn’t have been more different.
This was picked up by Neville, who recently revealed a glimpse of when the couple shared a hotel room together for six months on United’s absence when they first joined the senior team.
“I stayed with David Beckham for about six months, then the whole room with the players stopped completely because everyone went into their own room,” he said.
“I think they understood that the players were not compatible with each other and that each one went to bed at different times. I had two big problems with Becks, well, he had with me!
“I went to bed at 9:00 p.m. and woke up at 5:00 a.m., he stayed up until 11:00 p.m. and wanted to wake up at 8:00 a.m. so basically he kept me from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and then I woke him up at 5 hours of the morning. in the morning, so it didn’t work at all.
However, a different sleep pattern was not the only difference between the English duo.
“He is the cleanest person. He goes into his room, he lights candles, he puts pictures – everything must be absolutely perfect, it’s been the same since he was 18 years old.
Neville enjoys a conversation with his friend Beckham while serving in England in 2000
Neville described Beckham as a “flash git” when he appeared at United
Despite their different origins, Neville and Beckham have formed an unbreakable friendship
“I throw everything everywhere everywhere, so it didn’t work at all. I’m still talking, I was always arguing and it was just the opposite. He would listen to music, he would like peace, he would like to relax and this is just the completely opposite end of the spectrum where I was.
But despite their different personalities, they put that aside because they were going to win six Premier League titles, two FA Cups and a Champions League trophy together at Old Trafford to write their name in united folklore.
But how did chalk and cheese from Beckham and Neville form such an unlikely friendship that would help them reach different heights on the pitch?
Beckham, who is 45 today, was everything Neville was not, a Southerner with an Essex twang and a matching style, whose off-road personality would fit perfectly with his displays on the pitch – whipping shots francs and crosses gracefully, taking care of the balloon as his life depended on it.
But Neville – born and raised in Bury – took an irrefutable approach to his football, proving an unenviable nuisance to any opponent, doing everything in his power for the three points. Substance on style.
In Neville’s “RED: My autobiography”, the former Sky Sports expert in England revealed it with fascination during his first glimpse of Beckham: “David arrived one summer, at the age of 14. We were training when the boss approached, his arm around his shoulder. of this skinny kid with hair gel.
“He was wearing a brand new United tracksuit and his best sneakers. Apparently he won a competition in Bobby Charlton’s soccer schools, but we just thought, “Who is this flash git?” “A Cockney too”.
While the couple’s career paths have really taken off, only one of them is heading for the pomp and glamor of the showbiz world.
The duo won an incredible trophy with the giants of the Premier League
Neville was a flawless defender who opted for substance over style in his playing days
Meanwhile, former English skipper Beckham took care of the ball as if his life depended on it
Thanks to his elegant image on the field, Beckham received sponsorship contracts left, right and center at United, and would become the face of adidas – but he certainly had Neville to thank for that.
Recalling a story about Beckham’s love affair with adidas, in his column with Sportsmail in 2013, Neville revealed: “Shortly after I made my Manchester United debut at the age of 19, I received a pair of soccer shoes from one of the major sportswear companies. And a few weeks later, myself, David Beckham, Keith Gillespie and my brother Phil were sent by United to participate in a coaching school in the United States.
The boot was called the Predator and it was a new design that had ridges for extra grip on the leather. As soon as he saw them, David said, “Can I wear them? So he took them off of me and I was never able to wear them again.
“On this trip, he spent every minute he could practice with these boots, whipping those free kicks against the underside of the crossbar. He said, “I want these boots, I have to wear these boots, I can get a better idea of the ball with them, I can have more grip and deformation, it makes the ball spin more. “
“For me it was a new concept. But for him it was important. He wanted this benefit to create precision in his performance. He wanted to be the best kicker in a football he could be. In fact, soon after, he signed up for adidas because it was the company that made these boots and over the years that company has played a key role in projecting its incredible global image.
Neville was more than happy to disconnect without any media attention or scrutiny, but for Beckham, he was made for the spotlight and in 1999 he will be one of the greatest power couples in England when he meets with Spice Girls star Victoria Adams.
Two years after their meeting, David and Victoria married and Neville was the best man at the wedding. Another example of chalk and cheese is Neville’s wedding. Rather than marry an international pop star, he made the connection with Emma Hadfield, a former saleswoman whom he met in 2004.
Neville’s unbreakable bond with Beckham was forged while they lived together. “I stayed with David Beckham and when I had my house in Bolton. David would stay when Victoria was away, “Neville told the Guardian in 2014.” He always made me food. Sautéed with noodles and vegetables and pasta dishes with sauces – lots of pasta.
Beckham would continue to make the headlines, both on and off the field, his name continuing to be plastered in the media.
Beckham poses for photo with wife Victoria at 2003 MTV Movie Awards
Gary Neville married Emma Hadfield, a former saleswoman, to Manchester in 2007
While Neville kept his head down in pursuit of fame, the super-talented Beckham was in danger of tarnishing his legacy at Old Trafford and in 2003, his lifestyle off the field apparently made more headlines than his contribution on as he flirted with a stint at the European giants of Real Madrid.
And after United’s FA Cup exit from rival Arsenal at Old Trafford in February, “Goldenballs” – as Beckham was affectionately known – was on the verge of fury from Ferguson.
After the defeat, Ferguson remained furious at the performance of his team and Beckham was singled out in particular.
“In his last season with us, we were aware that David’s work rate was dropping and we had heard rumors of a flirtation between Real Madrid and David’s camp,” said Ferguson. “The main problem was that its application level had dropped from its traditionally stratospheric level.
“He was about 12 feet from me. Between us, on the ground, a row of boots. Jura David. I walked over to him, and as I got closer, I kicked a boot. He hit him just above the eye. Of course, he got up to tempt me and the players stopped him. “Sit down,” I said. “You dropped your team. You can chat as much as you want. »‘
Beckham received a nasty cut to the eye after Alex Ferguson inadvertently kicked him
The right midfielder joined the Spanish and European giants of Real Madrid in the summer of 2003
It wasn’t long before Beckham’s infamous cut just above his eye surfaced on the Internet – and that marked the beginning of the end for the captain of England with Madrid who was soon to travel.
Neville had always kept an eye on his best friend, admitting before that he had become preoccupied with Beckham because of all the media attention that had followed him every step of United and his role as English captain and talisman.
Writing to Beckham’s retirement, Neville said, “There was a time at United when I was worried about him. I was wondering how someone could cope with the attention he was receiving. He has been constantly photographed beyond the usual excesses of celebrity hysteria. He would be chased everywhere by photographers and everything he did, no matter how trivial, became a story. “
The midfielder will then join the MLS LA Galaxy in 2007, where he will spend five years
He became co-owner of the MLS Inter Miami franchise, which debuted in March of this year
After retiring, former England and United States right-back Neville opted for a career in sport
Beckham then spent four years as a “Galactico” at the Bernabeu after joining a £ 24.5 million contract before opting for the global lifestyle of Los Angeles, Milan and Paris after his stay in the Spanish capital. .
While Beckham enjoyed the jet set lifestyle before retiring in 2013, Neville continued to work tirelessly at Old Trafford and received the captain’s armband from Roy Keane in 2005, retaining it for five years before his powers waned. begin to decrease.
As the days wore on in Manchester, Neville went wild more and more frequently with his tiring body and fading fitness, which led him to retire to United in 2011 after an incredible 598 game service for the club that ‘he loved.
Neville’s last appearance was on New Years Day against West Brom in 2011, after he retired there solely for Ferguson to convince him to delay his public disclosure. “I was embarrassed every day training,” he told Manchester Evening News in 2017, “thinking that this very elitist football club had a guy in there who was a passenger. “
These comments brought to light a unique glimpse of his immense mentality – his brilliant career being characterized by discipline and excellence.
But that may be what brought the two together so closely. While many may think that Beckham’s off-field activities overshadow his dreams on the pitch, that’s not how he wants to be remembered.
After announcing his retirement from football, Beckham himself was asked by his best friend Neville how he would like to be remembered: “As a hardworking footballer”.
Neville added, “These words sum up for me. When people think of David, they often focus on things outside of the game. But in reality, he was a footballer, and a brilliant hard worker at that.
“In the years since David’s debut at Manchester United, the popularity of football has exploded and the money involved has grown exponentially. He has surfed this wave better than anyone and has become the most recognizable individual in football.
Neville decided to co-buy Salford City in 2014 alongside his class of 92 teammates
Five years later, Beckham also became a shareholder of Neville in Salford City
After the couple decided to call it a day, they opted for their own unique businesses – Neville taking the punditry route with Sky Sports while having a small stint in the relentless world of coaching in Valencia, while having commercial interests such as Hotel Football near Old Trafford.
Meanwhile, Beckham’s passion for football had certainly not diminished either, and the media world continued to follow him wherever he went. In 2014, it was announced that Beckham would co-own a new MLS franchise after playing in America playing for LA Galaxy.
His gaming deal with Galaxy included the option to buy a new MLS franchise for just $ 25 million (£ 20 million) – Beckham had firmly put American football on the map, and now that was his goal to leave a legacy in the United States.
At the launch of his MLS franchise, Inter Miami, Beckham couldn’t resist a brazen blow to his close friend. Asked about the potential managers, the former English skipper excluded Neville saying, “He talks too much. “
He may have been on the other side of the world with his former United teammate, but that certainly wouldn’t prevent Beckham from liquidating Neville.
After six years of delays, Beckham’s dream had come true when Inter Miami finally bowed out in MLS against Los Angeles FC in March this year.
Beckham and Neville watch PSG against Real Madrid in the Champions League in 2018
But while their companies took them on their separate trips, Beckham and Neville were joined on the hip again for good in 2019.
In 2014, Neville, along with his class-92 teammates and fellow American legends, Giggs, Scholes, Butt, and his brother Phil, agreed to buy Salford City – which evolved at the time in the Evo-Stik Division One North league – with an ambitious plan to bring them into the Football League.
Salford would get a promotion in his first season, and five years later, their dreams of reaching League Two came true in 2019.
That same year, Beckham became a shareholder in Salford City after taking a 10% stake in the club – which would make the class of 92 majority shareholders.
Beckham, Neville and Co were back together, and the class 92 teammates are now desperate to create another lasting legacy.
They may have their own ideas and perspectives on life outside of the game, but it won’t be long before the single double act comes together again thanks to their love of football.