The moment Gary Neville did that infamous celebration in front of Liverpool fans at Old Trafford in 2006, I wished a pool table would miraculously fall from the heavens and land straight on his head.
He was one of those players who made my blood boil as a Liverpool fan. Simply looking at his face would annoy me. He was as good at being irritating as he was at playing football. A contributing factor to why I resented him so much was because he represented a part of the reason why Liverpool were “knocked off their perch”. And oh, how he loved to gaud it in our faces.
In fairness to Gary, he did have to deal with us Liverpool fans singing about him having an incestuous relationship with his mother. The lyrics are known by most, so I won’t repeat them.
When the news broke that he was going to become a pundit on Sky Sports, I considered cancelling my subscription (well, the subscription that my parents pay for). Watching ex-players give their opinion is one of my favourite parts of football, and I couldn’t believe Gary Neville was now going to take that away from me.
It was inevitable that he would be anti-Liverpool and so incredibly biased. How could I trust myself to listen to his tripe without putting the remote control through the television? I also had a preconceived idea of him being extremely unintelligent. This was going to be a disaster.
Alas, I suddenly found myself developing feelings for Gary Neville as a football pundit. I felt ashamed and confused. How had this Mancunian manipulated football fans into liking him. Agreeing with his opinions and laughing at some of his comments, I felt as though I was cheating on Liverpool.
It was his commentary for the Chelsea and Barcelona game which made me fall in love with him. “FERNANDO TORRES, WHAT ARE YOU DOING???” he screamed down the mic. Then when Torres netted a rare goal for Chelsea, his orgasmic reaction was priceless. The entertainment value of his commentary helped alleviate the feeling of sadness when El Nino, who was once my idol, scored in the Champions League for Chelsea.
Last week another news story broke about Gary Neville, and I was a bit gutted when I read it. He is leaving his job as a Sky Sports pundit to pursue a career in coaching with Valencia. No more banter between him and Jamie Carragher, no more orgasming on live television. Sky’s loss will be Valencia’s gain.
I wish him well in his future endeavours and as much as it pains me to say it, Gary, I will miss you.