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Neville bids farewell in testimonial

Manchester United stalwart Gary Neville played his final game at Old Trafford on Tuesday night, as former team-mates turned out for the Red Devils in the defender's testimonial.

• Jolly: Final goodbye for Gary Neville

Neville, 36, called time on his playing career in February - ending an association with United that has lasted more than two decades - and his final farewell came in a friendly against Juventus, a club against who the right-back enjoyed some fantastic tussles with over the years.

Part of the Class of '92, the FA Youth Cup-winners who went on to form the bedrock of the senior side for over a decade, Neville excelled as first-choice right-back for club and country.

Against Juventus, he was joined by brother Phil, David Beckham and Nicky Butt in returnieng to the Old Trafford pitch, while fellow United academy graduates Paul Scholes, Wes Brown, Ryan Giggs and John O'Shea features.

Giggs was provider for the game's opening goal, driving a low cross into Wayne Rooney's path, who fired the home side into a 1-0 lead.

Rooney had been a surprise inclusion, with the Champions League final against Barcelona only four days away, and the striker lasted half an hour before he was replaced, along with Giggs and Scholes.

For Beckham in particular, it was an emotional night as he pulled on the famous red jersey for the first time since he left for Real Madrid in 2003. The reception the former England captain received was, if anything, more enthusiastic than the one afforded to Neville.

At times, it was like the years being rolled back as the pair combined down the right flank, as they did so often for the Red Devils in their prime. Michael Owen, who played so often alongside Neville and Beckham for England, nodded one of the full-back's trademark crosses over.

Owen also blazed over from a Bebe cross not long after Simone Pepe had equalised for Juve. Anderson and Rafael were introduced after the break, when Beckham curled a trademark free-kick narrowly over from the edge of the area.

Neville's night ended after 83 minutes, the former England full-back leaving the field to a well-deserved standing ovation. By that time, Manuel Giandonato had curled home a superb winner for Juventus.

Neville told Sky Sports: "The most important thing was that the lads got through it without getting injured. I enjoyed it, I wish we had won the game but that wasn't meant to be.''

The match was notable for being the most environmentally-friendly clash in English football history at the behest of eco-warrior Neville. Everything from the floodlights to the pie machines were powered by 52 windmills across the UK - operated by a firm called Ecotricity.

"I have recognised in the last two to three years the need to make personal changes in my life and reducing my environmental impact is going to be a five-year transition for me and my family," Neville explained before the game.

"Sport crosses all boundaries and plays a significant role in many people's lives. From my perspective we have to look at the effect sport has had on other issues over the last 20 years to see that when sport comes together with society, positive actions can happen."


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