Gary Neville says Sir Alex ‘snapped’ after Man Utd star swapped shirts | soccer

The Scot ordered his players not to swap shirts with the opposition (Pictures: The Overlap / Getty)

Gary Neville has revealed that Sir Alex Ferguson was banned Manchester United’s players from swapping shirts in a furious tirade after Ruud van Nistelrooy entered the dressing room with a City shirt.

The Red Devils were beaten 3-1 by their local rivals at Maine Road back in November 2002, with Shaun Goater netting twice after Nicolas Anelka had opened the scoring after just five minutes.

Sir Alex was already livid at losing the derby but ‘all hell broke lose’ when he noticed that Van Nistelrooy – United’s top scorer with 44 goals in all competitions that season – had a City shirt on him.

Speaking on skybet‘s The OverlapNeville recalled: ‘At the end of that game – I think it came out [in the press] – somebody asked to swap shirts with Ruud, and he swapped shirts and he walked into the dressing room with a Manchester City shirt on his [chest].

‘I mean, all hell broke lose. I have [Sir Alex] snapped. And she basically said, “None of you ever, ever swap one of my shirts ever again!” and pointed toward the City shirt. He went absolutely mad, crazy. And then it went quiet.’

Asked if he stopped swapping shirts after that, Neville continued: ‘It was difficult with the boss and him [Roy Keane]. I think the only reason Ruud had done it was because he [Keane] wasn’t playing and I was the captain!

‘I think he’d have rugby tackled him on the way up. He wasn’t having swapping shirts in Europe.’

Manchester United legend Ruud van Nistelrooy

Van Nistelrooy made a huge faux pas after the derby defeat (Picture: Getty)

Keane chimed in: ‘Europe wasn’t too bad, but not in a league game and not with City. That was a bit much.’

Reflecting on the shirts he did manage to get before the ban was implemented, Neville said: ‘I got a few in my early days. I got the Brazilian Ronaldo, Paolo Maldini. I was man-marking [Ronaldo] for the last two minutes of the game! Roberto Carlos, Alessandro Del Piero.

‘I got four or five and then that was it for me. I stopped pretty much around the time you had a problem with it, and the manager had a problem with it, and I just thought it wasn’t worth the hassle anymore.’

Keane had no interest in collecting the shirts of his rivals, though there was one occasion where he perhaps regretted not asking for a picture with a certain legendary sportsman.

‘I never bothered with shirts, honestly. I didn’t think it was a good thing to be chasing players, swapping shirts,’ said the Irishman.

Asked if he has ever asked anyone for a picture, Keane continued: ‘No. Remember we went to the BBC [Sports Personality of the Year] awards, we should have asked Muhammad Ali. He was there and all the ladies got one with him but I didn’t, I just thought it was disrespectful. Leave the man alone. He wasn’t well at the time.’

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