Gary Neville on Valencia move: "I've been on TV for a few years now; the time was right to stand up"

Frank Dalleres
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Valencia CF Training and Press Conference
Neville has become a popular broadcaster since retiring in 2011 (Source: Getty)

Valencia head coach Gary Neville accepted a surprise move to Spain because he felt ready to leave the comfort of the television studio for the crucible of the dugout, he said on Thursday.

The former Manchester United and England defender was appointed to his first managerial role on Wednesday by the La Liga club and will officially take up the role, assisted by brother Philip, next week.

Neville, 40, has carved out a successful second career as an outspoken and acclaimed analyst for Sky Sports alongside assisting England boss Roy Hodgson since ending his playing days in 2011.

Long earmarked as a future manager, he revealed yesterday that he had resisted previous opportunities to enter the profession but insisted he could not resist a club of Valencia’s stature.

“I’m precious what I associate myself with. If I turned down this job I could have kissed goodbye to my credibility,” he said.

“I’ve been offered managerial jobs in football over the last four or five years, but the timing never felt right. I wanted time to learn.

"When I received the call about Valencia on Sunday evening, I thought ‘what a football club, what an opportunity, what a challenge’.

"Sitting on the television over the last few years, it is time now to stand up.”

Neville said he had received encouragement from Sir Alex Ferguson, who managed him throughout his 19-year playing career at United, and Hodgson, who he has worked alongside for more than three years.

But he accepted that he would have win over doubters – he admitted that Neville the pundit would have been among them – who questioned why the team that finished fourth in Spain had hired an untried Englishman.

“I would question it and I would be sceptical and want to be proven otherwise,” he added.

“I understand I have to prove myself to the Valencia fans and the players. Anyone who has doubts and concerns will only be convinced by winning football matches.

"I’m not going to shy away form the direct approach I had on television.”

The former right-back will not take charge for Saturday’s clash with Barcelona but instead begin his tenure with a decisive Champions League home fixture against Lyon.

Neville, a business partner of Valencia owner Peter Lim, has only been handed a short-term contract until the end of the season but illustrated his commitment by pledging to relocate his family.

Valencia chair Layhoon Chan, meanwhile, rejected suggestions that Neville had been appointed because of his close links with Singaporean billionaire Lim, with whom he co-owns non-league Salford City.

“Peter and I have both known Gary for some years in both a personal and professional capacity for many years and have always seen him as someone very special,” she said.

“This appointment is not about nationality nor his relationship with Peter, it is about Gary’s qualities and his ability to lead Valencia at this crucial time.”

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