Gary Neville knew during Manchester United's New Year's Day win over West Brom that it would be his last game for the club he loves.
Press Pass Podcast: Neville retires
• Ferguson and Berbatov take awards
• Keegan: Neville right to retire
• Wenger: Neville was Prem's best
• Neville announces retirement
• Rewind to 1996: Fergie's Fledglings
• Adams: Neville will be missed
• Preview: Wolves v Man United
Neville announced his retirement from the game with immediate effect on Wednesday night, bringing the curtain down on an exceptional career that brought him eight Premier League titles and 85 England caps.
But after battling back from a succession of injuries in the latter part of his career, Neville realised that day at the Hawthorns that he simply could not cut it any more.
"After that game on New Year's Day I felt I had reached the end,'' he said. "It fact, it wasn't after that game, it was during. I had been thinking about it for a month or so before that. Sometimes you get a feeling in your mind that you just can't go again and that time had come for me.
"In the previous two seasons I had played 25-30 games and there was always a period where I felt I was contributing. Once you have lost that, you don't want to be a passenger.''
United's first game since Neville announced his retirement will be at Wolves on Saturday. It was thought that he might be leaving so abruptly to begin a career within the media. However, for now at any rate, it seems that is not the case, with Neville remaining at Old Trafford for the rest of the season to complete his coaching badges.
"I have been working for a football club every day for 20 years. I definitely want to try and continue my relationship with this club, even if it is just as a fan. But I want to have 12 months to gather my thoughts. I don't want to rush into another relationship quickly. I want to ease off a little bit and just relax. I need to chill out.''
It is anticipated Neville will be granted a testimonial at the end of the season in recognition of his contribution to the United cause. Owen Hargreaves has done little to deserve such an accolade and, like Neville, has endured an injury-plagued few years. The latest setback is his omission from United's Champions League squad for the knock-out phase, although, having failed to make it for the group stages either, it is hardly a surprise.