1. GARY NEVILLE
Captain of the United Youth Cup Final sides in 1992 and 1993, Neville went on to play over 600 times for the club spanning 19 seasons. The Bury-born defender broke into the first team in 1994-1995 after an injury to Paul Parker and went on to form a formidable partnership with David Beckham down the right side. After Roy Keane’s departure in 2005, Neville became club captain for five seasons, but during this time he was plagued with injuries. A proud one-club man, Neville won eight league titles, three FA Cups, two League Cups, two Champions Leagues and the World Club Championship. He captained the side in the 2006 League Cup Final win against Wigan. His 85 caps remain a record for an England right- back and along with his brother Phil, he holds the record for the most caps by brothers, beating a mark set by Bobby and Jackie Charlton. After retiring in 2011, he became a Sky Sports pundit and commentator, and since May 2012 combines those duties with the role of England coach under Roy Hodgso
2. DAVID BECKAM
Arguably the most popular English footballer since Stanley Matthews, ‘Becks’ is the sport’s undisputed glamour boy. Despite being a Londoner, his United-supporting parents regularly travelled to Old Trafford for games. A young David then joined Bobby Charlton’s Soccer Academy in Manchester and was picked up by the club. Although he made his senior debut at 17 years old in September 1992 against Brighton in the League Cup, it took him longer than many of Fergie’s Fledglings to establish himself and even spent a loan spell at Preston in the Third Division in 1995. His wonder goal from the halfway line against Wimbledon at Selhurst Park opening day of the 1996-1997 season was a defining moment for Beckham who later revealed he had played with borrowed boots. Beckham was made a scapegoat for England’s 1998 World Cup exit after being sent-off against Argentina in the quarter-finals, but remained a favourite with United fans and he rewarded them the following season as the club won the Treble. His glamorous lifestyle put an increasing strain on his relationship with his boss and it was reported that his pop star wife Spice Girl Victoria encouraged him to leave his beloved United. He joined Real Madrid in 2003 for £25 million and won the La Liga title with them in his fourth and final season at the Bernabeu. Five seasons at MLS side LA Galaxy with loan spells at Milan followed before moving to French outfit Paris Saint-Germain in February, where he is the last Englishman still involved in this season’s Champions League. At 37, England’s most capped outfield player refuses to talk about retirement and still hopes to represent his country at the 2014 World Cup Finals in Brazil.
3. Ryan Giggs
The ‘Peter Pan’ of football continues to represent United 22 years after making his debut as a substitute against Everton in March 1991. Giggs had joined United from Manchester City in 1987 and was an England schoolboy using his father’s surname Wilson, before changing it to his mother’s maiden name and playing for Wales. The wiry and awkward teenager was blessed with pace and poise and soon caught the eye of United boss Alex Ferguson who would invite first-team regulars such as Bryan Robson, Steve Bruce and Gary Pallister to youth games to watch him. He was voted the PFA’s Young Player of the Year in 1992 and 1993, but amazingly didn’t win the PFA Player of the Year award until 2009, though he has made up for it with a phenomenal amount of team and individual honours. Giggs is the only player to play and score in every season of the Premier League, and has amassed an unrivalled 12 league titles, while breaking Sir Bobby Charlton’s club appearance record along the way. Recently he notched up his 1000th competitive match for club and country against Real Madrid in the Champions League, and signed a new one- year contract that will take him beyond his 40th birthday in November. Awarded an OBE for services to sport in 2007, Giggs was one of three over-aged players to represented Team GB at last summer’s Olympics. His current one-year deal will take him into his 40’s and there is every chance it will be renewed again.
4. Nicky Butt
Often overshadowed by Roy Keane and Paul Scholes at the heart of the United midfield, this local lad still managed to be a regular for over a decade. A key member of the 1992 FA Youth Cup winning side, it was only with the departure of Paul Ince to Inter Milan in 1995 that Butt began to establish himself in the first team. His greatest moment came in the 1999 Champions League final where the suspension of Roy Keane meant Butt played a pivotal role in the 2-1 success against Bayern Munich. As Paul Scholes became more of a central midfielder, Butt once again found himself on the fringes and handed in a transfer request in 2004. He joined Sir Bobby Robson’s Newcastle where he made over 150 appearances in five seasons and spent time on loan at Birmingham, before a brief spell in China signalled an end to his career. Now the 38-year-old has returned to his first love where he has been United’s reserve team coach since October last year.
to be continued
1. GARY NEVILLE