"I was bawling my eyes out" - Phil Neville on the day he left Man United

Ex-Everton player speaks to Off The Ball about his career

Manchester United, Phil Neville,

Former Manchester United player Phil Neville. Mike Egerton/EMPICS Sport

Former Manchester United and Everton player Phil Neville has opened up about his emotions at the time he swapped Old Trafford for Goodison Park.

The BBC Match of the Day pundit and former Valencia coach was speaking to Off The Ball and ex-Everton team-mate Kevin Kilbane about his career.

Neville discussed his decision to leave boyhood club Manchester United to Everton in 2005 and admitted that it "wasn't an easy decision".

"In that last season, the boss had just bought Djemba Djemba, Kleberson, David Bellion and he was trying to build a new team. Quinton Fortune came into the squad and I was missing out on games so that Djemba Djemba, Kleberson and Fortune could play," he said.

"These were good players but I thought that the writing was a little bit on the wall and I got to the point where it was just at the time I thought I need to be playing every week here or at least have the opportunity to play every week." 

But he added that when he met with Alex Ferguson, who liked and rated him, the manager supported Neville's decision to leave but told him that he would be happy to keep him if a move did not materialise.

(left to right) Phil Neville, Ryan Giggs, Nicky Butt, David Beckham and Gary Neville arriving for the World premiere of documentary film The Class of 92 - detailing the rise to prominence and sporting superstardom of six talented young Manchester United footballers, covering the period 1992-1999 and culminating in Manchester United's European Cup triumph - at the Odeon West End in Leicester Square, central London. Yui Mok/PA Archive/PA Images

And Ferguson also invited around his house for a cup of tea to discuss what would come next, with Neville initially keen on a move abroad so that he wouldn't have to play against United, but that Ferguson advised him: "Speak to your Dad, find a club and we'll speak later".

Eventually he settled on a move to Everton and after calling David Moyes late at night, he would call his father straight after and "burst out crying because the realisation hit me then that I was leaving Manchester United and for the next hour I was bawling my eyes out".

He added that once the move was made, he "never looked back" and described it as "the best decision I ever made".

Neville also gave an insight into Ferguson's man management style as he experienced it and revealed that he had never really experienced the infamous "hairdryer" himself and described his former boss as a "wonderful, wonderful man".

The 40 year old also discussed his progression into the first team as part of a generation now heralded as the fabled Class of 92.

He also revealed that he was "far better at cricket" as a schoolboy and enjoyed it more at that age in comparison to football, as well as how his maths teacher helped decide on one over the other.

Touching on former United captain Roy Keane, he regards him as the "greatest captain I've ever played for" and had a "great relationship" with the former Ireland midfielder while they were together at Old Trafford.