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Friday, 25 June 2010
Everton Captain and former England footballer Phil Neville and
his wife, Julie, made a flying visit to Bolton School Junior Boys'
School to thank pupils for taking part in a schools' fundraising
campaign in aid of the Royal Manchester Children's Hospital.
The Premiership footballer and his wife are patrons of the charity
and told the boys of how they had become involved after their
daughter, Isabella, had been born almost 3 months premature and
doctors at the hospital had saved her life. She was diagnosed
with Cerebral Palsy and continues to attend the hospital for
treatment. The charity aims to create an environment that is
more child-friendly; to support research projects to improve our
understanding of children's illnesses; and to provide
state-of-the-art equipment for diagnosis and treatment.
Schools across the North West took part in the Tesco Wear What U
Want Day - an event in which pupils were encouraged to pay £1 in
return for being able to ditch their uniform for the day! As
a reward for their charity work, the pupils were afforded a once in
a lifetime opportunity to ask the football star any questions.
The junior boys, all 194 of them aged 7 to 11, were given an
opportunity to pose quick fire questions to the football star,
following a talk from Julie Neville about how, by making the effort
to join the Wear What U Want Day, they had helped the Royal
Manchester Children's Hospital, which had already seen 135,000
children pass through its doors.
Phil Neville was delighted to see Mike Duxbury in the audience,
who is now a PE teacher in the boys' school. He
said Mike and Bryan Robson had been his heroes at Man Utd when he
had been growing up. Phil answered all his questions very
openly, saying the highlight of his career had been winning the
European Champions Cup with Manchester United against Bayern Munich
- he recalled how with only a few minutes to go the Bayern ribbons
had already been put on the cup in anticipation of them winning the
trophy yet United came back with two goals in the last two minutes
to win the cup!
Looking at the World Cup, he felt England could beat Germany on
Sunday. The player that really excites him in the tournament
is Messi. His favourite player in the England team is Wayne
Rooney. The best player he has ever played with is Ryan
Giggs, who would regularly skin him in training. The best
player he has ever played against was Ruud Gullit, who he said was
a colossus of a player.
Playing for England, he recalled, was a dream come true,
although a massively nerve racking experience. The best World
Cup campaign he was involved in was in France 1998, when they went
out on penalties against Argentina.
Phil had fond memories of playing at Man Utd where he was from
10 years to 28 years of age. His biggest regret was leaving
his brother, Gary, behind who he had played with for much of his
career and is still his best friend. He said it is very
strange playing against him these days and that they did not speak
for a few days after Everton beat United recently. If he
could play for any team now, having played for United and Everton,
he would play for Barcelona, who he thinks are the best team in
With Everton, he trains from 9.30am-12.00 noon and then tends to
go into the gym and work out and push weights. His best
friend at the club is Tim Cahill. He thinks Tim Cahill's goal
celebration of going over to the corner flag and punching it is the
best celebration he has seen and he vowed to do this next time he
scores, although there could be a wait for this as he has only
scored nine goals in his whole career. He said his nickname
at Everton is "Jigsaw" as when he gets in the box he goes to
pieces. He is 33 years of age now and hopes to play until he
He had never had a red card until he joined Everton and then got
3 red cards in one season - he said there is no worse feeling than
sitting in the dressing room on your own, knowing that you have let
all your team mates down. He also recalled a low point in his
career as being when he gave a penalty away playing for England,
which meant they lost and did not progress through to the next
round of a tournament. When he got home, he found his
house gates on fire!
The worst goal he had ever scored was an own goal against
Liverpool. This was a bitter pill in that they are the team
that he always wants to beat - given his history with Man Utd and
as Everton captain.
When asked about his largest defeat, he said one of his first
games was for an U9s team and they were losing 16-0 at half time,
when the game was stopped. Although he had equally bad
memories of being thrashed by Arsenal 6-1 at the start of the last
The hardest team to play against domestically is Man Utd but,
internationally, it was always Brazil and he recalled being in awe
of the skill of Ronaldo and Romario.
When asked who is favourite manager was, he diplomatically
answered that the best manager ever is Sir Alex Ferguson but that
he has massive respect for David Moyes, who he sees as being a
younger version of Sir Alex.
Mr Whittaker, Head of the Junior Boys, commented: "We are
delighted that Phil and Julie Neville have taken the time to thank
our pupils and I know the boys have thoroughly enjoyed grilling a
Premiership footballer. It is important that boys understand
the importance of helping others and it has been particularly
useful for them to learn first-hand how their contribution will
help the lives of others."
Having been presented with a cheque from the boys, Phil and
Julie were then cheered off the grounds as they flew to their next
visit in an Agusta 109 Grand helicopter.
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