Brian McClair reveals he asked Gary Neville to join PFA at age 22 because he was ‘advanced for his age’
Brian McClair revealed that in the early 2000s he had asked a 22-year-old Gary Neville to join the management committee of the Players’ Football Association (PFA) because he was’ advanced ‘for his age at the time.
The former Manchester United right-back is known not only for his strong views on football, but also on global issues outside of sport, most of which is broadcast through his expert role at Sky Sports.
When Neville was a young right-back at Old Trafford, former United Academy director McClair recommended that Neville join the upper echelons of the PFA despite his young age because he had the ‘determination’ and ‘desire’ to thrive in the role. .
Brian McClair (left) revealed that he asked Gary Neville to join the PFA at the age of 22 because he was ‘advanced for his age’ as a young player
Neville was a young right back when he was asked by McClair to join the PFA committee
McClair told his Living with Brian podacst: ‘Gary, who was 22, was actually quite advanced for me. He entered professional adult professional sports when he was sixteen. His most important quality is his determination, his desire to be the best he can be at whatever he does.
Gary had shown by the age of 16 that he was determined and had the right attitude to stand up and say the right thing with regard to footballers’ rights. He would stand up and say this is what I think would be best – for the game, not for myself. He has continued that.
Whatever he gets involved in, he’s determined to be successful in it and he’s always ready to give you an opinion. It won’t always be good, but he will give it to you. ‘
Neville was part of the infamous ‘Class of 92’ in which United legends David Beckham, Ryan Giggs and Nicky Butt broke into the club’s first team for the first time.
Neville, now 46, is outspoken about his views on all things football and global affairs
McClair was a fixture in the first team at the club when Neville and his young teammates came by and admitted the right back had gone through the selection process at Old Trafford – but he would have liked a career without football.
McClair added, “Gary had already had some kind of setback in his career, he’d been through the selection process up until then.
He was always the last to be told he was signed, so he had the idea that he was clinging to Manchester United with his fingernails.
‘He was like,’ I’m here, but I could easily get my job outside of football.
‘I thought he was the one who could take it and do whatever needed to be done. I think he would have been involved. ‘
McClair says Neville (fifth from left) ‘traversed’ United’s youth-level selection process
Neville admitted that he would be dealing with both young and older players in his PFA commission role and even recalled a time when footballers threatened to strike during his time with the league due to the treatment of players at the time.
The expert told Sky Sports this month: “In the youth teams I was the foreman who stood up for the players, with Eric Harrison and Nobby Stiles.
‘I took the job and went to the PFA management committee and there were times in the early 2000s when we had to threaten to strike to protect the rights of the players, and that was not the time we did’ we are talking about players for £ 200k a week.
Neville claimed he represented both young and old players in his PFA role in the early 2000s
‘We are talking about players being kicked out of the game. There is a huge amount of young players getting kicked out of the game and the PFA is funding their education, their wellbeing, the mental health support they need to destroy their dream.
And then you have the players aged 55, 65, 70 who are undergoing hip surgery or life-saving surgery, or have needs in other ways and the PFA is there to support its members. It’s important that football does that and the PFA does. ‘
Neville recently spoke out in criticism of the national response to the appointment of new PFA chief Maheta Molango earlier this month, with the former Brighton player taking over from Gordon Taylor.
Neville recently defended the appointment of PFA CEO Maheta Molango (above)
Molango faces a revolt from PFA members after being announced as the new chief, and Neville has disapproved of the language used to describe the Swiss executive when the decision to elect him was made.
Neville added: ‘I thought it was a terrible response. I saw it when it first broke and thought there was a little bit of the language I didn’t like, it was a little bit derogatory, a little bit disparaging, almost like ‘who is this guy, how did he get the job ? ‘
And then it seemed to go on for another day and I thought it was a bit of a joint attack. I thought, “do they know Maheta?” I’ve never met Maheta in my life. I don’t know who he is.
‘The British media don’t know him anyway. They call people in Spain or they talk to people inside the PFA who clearly don’t want to give a shining recommendation and it came on the fourth or fifth day and I was like, “enough is enough. It’s just not right, this”. ‘