SIR ALEX FERGUSON didn’t let Gary Neville give up the captain’s armband at Manchester United – as he feared a Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney row.
Neville revealed he felt “unworthy” of being captain but was forced into it by Ferguson in order to keep the peace in the Old Trafford dressing room.
Neville says he was only made captain to stop Rooney and Ronaldo from rowing
Ferguson gave Neville the captaincy after Keane’s departureCredit: PA:Press Association
Fergie feared Rooney would “kick off” if Ronaldo was made captain so decided to keep his long-serving defender as team leader.
Speaking on Sky Sports’ The Football Show, Neville admitted: “I got injured a year after taking the captaincy and I felt I didn’t contribute as a captain should do.
“I went to see Sir Alex in pre-season, we had an amazing team of great personalities and players, and said I don’t feel worthy of being captain.
“And he said, ‘You’ll keep that f***ing armband, son. You and Giggs will rotate it’.
“He said ‘if I give it to Ronaldo, Rooney will kick off. If I give it to Vidic, Ferdinand will kick off’.
“It was for camaraderie, we were the policemen in the dressing room, keeping things together but I felt unworthy at that stage.”
Neville was handed the Man Utd captaincy shortly after Roy Keane’s shock departure midway through the season in November 2005.
I think Sir Alex chose me ahead of Giggs because he was in and out of the team and I was playing every single week.
Neville on being made Man Utd captain
The former England star recalled: “I had Roy Keane as captain for ten years and Roy left really quickly and unexpectedly part-way through the season.
“It was a huge shock and you couldn’t replicate Roy. I worked with him, Bryan Robson and Steve Bruce and they were special characters, with influence over a dressing room.
“I couldn’t take over from Roy and be Roy, I’m not the same in character and influence.
“I wanted to be true to myself, I was PFA union rep from the age of 23, I believed in players sticking together.
“I think Sir Alex chose me ahead of Ryan Giggs because he was in and out of the team as Sir Alex liked to rotate his players and I was playing every single week.
“In the five or six years I was captain it was me, Ryan and Scholes as captains. We worked together to make sure we set the tone and standards in the dressing room.
“It was a different approach to Keane and Robson, they had influence. Roy was the most influential player I’d seen on and off a football field.”
Rooney also opened up on his relationship with Ronaldo following the Portuguese star’s infamous wink at Euro 2004, saying it ultimately made them CLOSER.
Ronaldo ran over to the referee in a bid to get Rooney sent-off for his stamp on Ricardo Carvalho.
Rooney recalled: “When he ran over to ask Elizondo to send me off I pushed him away. In that moment I couldn’t believe what he was doing.
“But sitting in that dressing room gave me time to calm down and think.
“I put myself in Ronaldo’s shoes. Would I do the same? Probably. Would I be in the ref’s face to make sure he got sent off?
“If he deserved the red, if it would help us win — yes, no question. I’d do it tomorrow.
“I thought, ‘Actually, I tried to get him booked in the first half for diving’.
“And the wink thing, I didn’t see anything in that at all. It was nothing. So I calmed down.”
Rooney added: “In the dressing room we were always really close. It was always the two of us doing pranks on the manager or other players.
“And what had happened brought us closer together on the pitch.
“The next three years were our best as a partnership and brought three titles and the Champions League. My red card in Gelsenkirchen was the starting point.”