Rio will miss ‘really funny’ Nev

The veteran right-back quit the game earlier this month and has

already started working with United’s academy players in an effort

to complete his coaching badges before deciding what to do with the

remainder of his life. Neville acquired the reputation of being a

militant presence in the dressing room – he advocated strike action

over Ferdinand’s omission from an England squad immediately after

it was revealed the centre-half had failed to turn up to a drugs

testing session, which ultimately saw him landed with an

eight-month ban. However, Ferdinand has seen a different side to

Neville. And he accepts Neville, who celebrates his 36th birthday

on Friday, will be missed around Old Trafford. “Gary was

tremendous,” said Ferdinand. “He had great determination and drive

and could deliver fantastic crosses. “I remember the first time I

joined up with an England squad, Gary would be doing his own

stretches whilst the manager was talking to the players before

training. “People used to take the Mickey out of him for that. But

it just shows you the length he would go to in order to maximise

his potential. “That sort of behaviour earned him a reputation as

somebody who was very serious. “But he was a really funny bloke and

we will miss him in the dressing room.” Ferdinand seems unlikely to

be in United’s side to face non-league Crawley in the FA Cup fifth

round at Old Trafford on Saturday. He has not featured since

injuring his groin in the warm-up ahead of United’s defeat at

Wolves a fortnight ago, although, with a Champions League trip to

Marseille looming next Wednesday, Sir Alex Ferguson would hope the

32-year-old is not sidelined any longer.