Gary Neville has revealed he attempted to convince David Beckham to stay at Manchester United before he left the club to join Real Madrid.
Beckham developed into one of United’s greatest players after breaking into the first-team in the early 1990s, helping the Red Devils win six Premier League titles and the Champions League.
The England legend left Old Trafford in 2003 to join Spanish giants Real Madrid, but not before Neville attempted to persuade Beckham to stay.
Discussing Beckham’s departure, Neville told Sky Sports: ‘I remember when David was leaving, he whispered something to me on the pitch at the end of a game.
‘He said something like, “I think they [Manchester United] want to sell me”. At the time Real Madrid and Barcelona were in for him.
‘I said to him, “just sign the contract… stay at the club”. But he wanted to go.
‘Part of him wanted to experience one of those clubs. He always saw himself beyond Manchester, as much as he loved the club.
‘I always felt he had an incredible vision about what he wanted to do with his life.
‘There was never any friction after he left. I never felt that at all because I thought it was for the best in the end.
‘It suited both parties and I still think that now but I was devastated because it felt like the gang was breaking up.’
Neville, who himself won eight Premier League titles at Manchester United, added: ‘I think with David I definitely spoke to him about staying longer, would he change his mind, could he stay.
‘But David is obviously an independent thinker, would look at his own situation, wouldn’t sort of change what he was thinking because of what I would say in the sense that he would go and do his own thing.’
After leaving Manchester United, Beckham won domestic titles in Spain, France and America and is widely regarded as one of the greatest wingers in history.
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