Gary Neville has been left baffled by a new twist to Arsenal and Manchester United’s infamous bust-up story in 2005.
The two Premier League rivals went head to head in a fierce encounter which ended 4-2 in favour of United at Highbury during the 2004/05 season. But the match is arguably better known for the two sides’ fiery captains clashing in the tunnel before kick-off.
The camera was live and waiting for the players to line up alongside referee Graham Poll, only for a moody Vieira to appear with team-mate Pascal Cygan calming him down. Seconds later a furious, red-faced Keane stormed behind him barking "shut your mouth", with only Poll standing in the way in what could have turned violent.
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Red Devils legend and pundit Neville previously explained what triggered the incident, saying: “I just remember in these footsteps behind me Vieira shouting ‘Neville, Neville, you’re not going to kick our players out on the pitch’. Roy turned back and heard him and started having a go at him.
"Vieira then squirted his water bottle at him and all hell broke loose. Everyone got pulled back and it was a bit of nothing really but I’ve never seen Arsenal like that. People say you win the game in the tunnel. Well, I’m not sure that was far wrong.”
Vieira’s threat is believed to have been retaliation at Neville kicking lumps out of Arsenal winger Jose Antonio Reyes earlier that season. And Wayne Rooney, who was a rising star at United at the time, has now revealed that Keane decided to get involved due to Neville ‘not being a fighter’.
Rooney told The Times: “Arsenal had targeted Gary Neville for whatever reason and it started in the warm-up. Vieira and someone else chased him in the tunnel. He’s not a fighter, Gary, not off the pitch, and he ran into our dressing room.”
Rooney’s dig at his former captain left the latter baffled as he took to social media to write: “This story changes every year,” along with a laughing face emoji.
Do you think Gary Neville ran away from Patrick Vieira? Let us know in the comments section.
Despite Neville allegedly being chased by Vieira, camera footage prior to the match appeared to show the former right-back squeezing Vieira’s hand following the incident in an effort to intimidate the now Crystal Palace manager.
Neville previously explained his action by saying: “The handshake was a bit more prolonged but what I was saying is ‘you can shout all you like but there’s football to be played and I’m not going to be intimidated with what you’re saying.’”
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