An in depth interview with United's own Captain Courageous
On being a United supporter
I saw men screaming, witn tne veins coming out of their neck, on Deansgate_the day after we won the European Cup. Nothing in their life made them do that before, nothing in their life made them do it since. You can spend 30 quid on nothing these days, on absolute rubbish. Or you can get the buzz of your life out of watching United.
On wearing the red shirt of United
I always tell the young players here if you look down at your shirt and see a Manchester United badge, you're not having a bad day. You're doing all right. The day I don't have the United badge on my chest will be a sad one for me. I don't think I can ever have the same feeling playing for another football club.
On the BIG clubs
I'm not naive enough to think there is only Man United. Barcelona, Real Madrid, Juventus, Milan and Bayern Munich have more than enough right to suggest they're at the very top of the game, with United and Liverpool. Those clubs are the ones with the real tradition and history and power. They have the immense following. Others can try, but nobody breaks into that. And they never will.
On the Addiction
I always say this to the fans when they talk about who owns the club or who the directors are or who the chairman is: when you first walked into that ground at the age of five or 10, you didn't walk up the steps from the refreshment bar and think, who's that sat over there in the directors' box? You fell in love with that team running out in that red shirt, in that great ground, on that green pitch. That was what drew you to the club and made you think, wow, that's got me. And it's an addiction you have for life. It was walking into the stadium, that's what gripped me, the size of it — I was in awe of the whole place. I just love everything; the badge, the history.
On his attitude
I still wonder why I was invited back every year, and it can only have been attitude. If training started at 5pm, I would be there at 4.15, passing against a wall. I knew I had to do that when I saw the skills of local lads like Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt at 13. Then the out-of-town kids joined us, like David Beckham, Keith Gillespie and Robbie Savage. I was a central midfield player and I thought: 'I'm not as good as this lot, nowhere near.'
On Fergie's Fledglings
If you aren't the most talented player in the world, you have to sprint to keep up. You have to make sacrifices. When I left school at 16, I made the conscious decision that I would cut myself off from all my mates. It sounds brutal, and it was selfish, but I knew that they would be doing all sorts of teenage things that I couldn't get involved with, even if that was just having a few drinks. I'll always remember my dad telling me: 'You've got two years to give it a real go. Never look back and wish you'd done more.'
On the School of hard knocks
We were brought up in a hard school. Our youth coach, Eric Harrison, was tough with us, the manager was tough with us and then, when you got close to the first team, you had to deal with Mark Hughes, Eric Cantona, Roy Keane and Paul Ince. You couldn't be a wimp with those lads. I've always said that they saw us as a threat to them as a , winning group. Those players had already won medals and they were thinking: Is this bunch of kids going to keep me in championships?
On Hard Times and Hard Men
I still remember Steve Bruce ripping me to shreds at Elland Road, Mark Hughes charging at me just because I hadn't played the ball into the channel, Eric Cantona giving me the stare, Keaney and Incey snarling. And that was before you had to face the manager. It was a hard school, but the best education imaginable. It was all about the levels, the standards that you have to produce, and they were incredibly driven. They were animals, some of them. To be honest, you could say that they weren't nice people to play with at times. They were so demanding, so aggressive. You lived or died by it, but we came through it. They were brutal at times, some of them.
On getting paid Big Bucks
I signed a contract at 16 which promised me £29.50 a week for two years, so I didn't come into this for the money. I came here because I loved playing football and playing for United. At 18 I got £210 a week and I was playing for England. In fact, I was playing for England for £230 a week, because it went up £20 a year. Because it went up to £1,000 a week after that, it didn't make me a different person, and am I going to turn it down when the club increases it to £5000?
On winning the Treble
Even at 2-0 down to Juventus, I remember Becks saying: 'We can do this,'and he's not really the type for that. To have belief even in that situation was incredible, because the defence had endured a 20-minute nightmare. I was caught out for one goal, losing Inzaghi, and Jaap Stam was being run ragged down that side. Ronny Johnsen was all over the place. We were playing very poorly but we were a decent bunch of lads who managed to pull off a freak. The Treble will be a freak. I just can't see it being repeated.
Gary Neville is a RED - He hates scousers.