The Reds defender was just 17 when he came off the bench against Torpedo Moscow in September 1992, in front of under 20,000 supporters at Old Trafford in a UEFA Cup tie. He came on for the final five minutes and his only contribution was to take a late long throw which sailed harmlessly into the box. The first-leg tie ended goalless and Fergie was far from pleased in the dressing room.
“I got in the dressing room after the game,” recalled Neville. “And the manager just went off on one at Gary Pallister. He went mad at him. &aposHave you ever watched the youth team? You&aposre a disgrace. Watch the youth team and you&aposd know he&aposs got a long throw. We&aposre 0-0 in the last minute against Torpedo Moscow and you&aposre on the halfway line!&apos.
“I was a bit embarrassed really, but obviously I was buzzing. If I died the next day, I&aposd played for United. From the age of four or five, that had been a dream.”
That dressing room dressing down was nothing compared to what happened after United were dumped out on penalties in Russia. Neville had travelled as part of the squad, along with David Beckham and Nicky Butt, but didn&apost get on as the Reds lost on penalties with Steve Bruce, Brian McClair and Pallister failing from the spot.
United were out of Europe but Neville and his fellow Class of &apos92 members had lost more than a game. They were in line for a windfall of 3,500 if the Reds progressed, due to the club&aposs bonus scheme. Given the trio were on 29.50 a week it was a sizeable incentive and one Neville and Beckham had earmarked for new cars.
“In the dressing room afterwards, the three of us are virtually crying in the corner because we&aposd lost three-and-a-half grand to Torpedo Moscow,” recalled Neville. “I&aposd lost my Peugeot GTI. I think Becks was ordering a Maserati with his.
“I&aposm on for 1,500 and it was a grand each for Becks and Butty. We&aposre thinking, &aposNever mind the result, this is 40 weeks&apos wages&apos.
“The gaffer came into the dressing room afterwards and it was like World War Three. He sets about the three of them (Bruce, McClair and Pallister), arguing about the penalties, and Robbo stepped in. Somebody else stepped in. The gaffer hadn&apost calmed down by that point, and with the relationship he had with those lads, he was able to properly get at them. If those lot had started throwing punches, then we were in trouble. They were maniacs.”