Former Everton captain Phil Neville tonight announced his retirement from football.
Neville hangs up his boots after a career that has spanned 19 years, with six Premier League titles and a European Cup among a glittering honour roll that started as a youngster at Manchester United.
The defender joined Everton in summer 2005 and became captain in January 2007, following David Weir’s departure, and went on to make 303 appearances during his eight-year stay at Goodison Park.
Initially former England international Neville, 36, refused to call time on playing, despite leaving the Blues at the end of last season, but has now decided to bring the curtain down.
He said: “I was speaking to Robbie Fowler about this the other week and he hasn’t officially retired. Three weeks ago, everyone in the world seemed to be retiring. I thought ’I’m not jumping on this bandwagon’. I just wanted it to be a smooth, quiet turnover. I didn’t want that.
“When I made a statement that I was leaving Everton, everywhere I went I seemed to be getting ’oh you’ve been brilliant’. I didn’t like it. I didn’t want to be seen as an attention-seeker. In my heart, I knew that I wouldn’t be playing again – at any level. I just wanted to drift away.
“The biggest thing I will miss is July 4 when Everton are due back for pre-season training. I loved that day. I lived for it, getting back with the lads.
“My wife, she knows what I’m like. She’s saying ’for God’s sake, don’t have any more time off!”’
Neville was a part of England’s coaching staff during their failed appearance at the European Under-21 Championships in Israel and could be in line for a swift return to the Premier League.
New Everton manager Roberto Martinez has promised to speak with him about a potential role on his backroom staff while he has also been tipped for a reunion with David Moyes at Old Trafford.
“If you had asked me two months ago, I thought I’d do a year with BBC or in the media. It might work for some people but not me,” added Neville.
“I will be going to the World Cup next year with the BBC – I won’t be going as a player! I do enjoy the media side but I want to work, I want to coach, I want to get more hours on the grass.
“I have got two paths – one to go into the media, the other to go into coaching and management. I have got offers from both. I will sit down at the end of the tournament.”