Beckham returns for Neville farewell

To chants of ”Fergie sign him up,” David Beckham made a

one-off return to the Manchester United team on Tuesday to mark the

end of best friend Gary Neville’s career in a friendly against


The Los Angeles Galaxy gave their star midfielder permission to

miss the Major League Soccer match against the Houston Dynamo on

Wednesday to return to Old Trafford.

The former England captain reprised his partnership on the right

flank with defender Neville that worked so well for club and

country, although United lost 2-1 to Juventus.

Manuel Giandonato and Simone Pepe netted for the Serie A side

after Wayne Rooney’s opener for the Premier League champions, who

didn’t lose at home all season.

Beckham left Alex Ferguson’s United in 2003 to join Real Madrid,

having graduated with Neville into the first team after winning the

1992 FA Youth Cup.

They both received the loudest cheers at Old Trafford, where in

one late moment of drama Beckham helped to restrain a fan who

invaded the pitch.

Beckham and Neville were also reunited with other members of the

so-called ”Fergie’s Fledglings”: Nicky Butt, who is without a

team, Gary Neville’s brother Phil, who now captains Everton, Paul

Scholes and Ryan Giggs.

”It was great. I haven’t been on a pitch with them for almost

10 years,” Beckham said. ”To be out there again on this field in

front of this crowd with Sir Alex Ferguson as manager was a great


”Tonight was all about Gary. He got an amazing send-off from

the fans but we all knew, even before tonight, how much they love

him and how much he means to this club. He’ll always be a part of

this club and its history.”

Giggs, like Rooney, whose goal he set up, played 30 minutes

despite both being set to start in the Champions League final

against Barcelona on Saturday.

”Barcelona are such a great football side, one of the best in

the world, but if any club, and any manager, can beat them it is

Manchester United and Sir Alex Ferguson,” Beckham said.

The 37-year-old Giggs was in action a day after being named in

the British parliament as the footballer at the center of a legal

gag order.

Neville left the pitch to a standing ovation after 83 minutes,

embracing Beckham and drawing a close to a United career that saw

him play 602 first-team games for his boyhood club.

Neville won the Champions League, eight Premier League titles,

three FA Cups, two League Cup titles, the Intercontinental Cup and

the Club World Cup along the way.

”The most important thing for this club now is to go and win

that (Champions League) trophy on Saturday,” the 36-year-old

Neville said.