WHO WOULD YOU RATHER BE – Mr Winner, Mr Reliable or Cult God?

Many times, friends and I have often had this debate. If you took everything into consideration and looked back at your professional footballing career after hanging up your boots, who would you rather be remembered as? Ross Fisher puts it to the public over a cheeky pint.

Gary Neville – “…A Man Who Is Unquestionably Loyal To Manchester United” – Sir Alex Ferguson

No matter what you think of him as a personality, it is undeniable that Gary Neville has been one of the most reliable, and arguably the best right-back this country has produced. He has played at one of the most successful clubs in the world throughout his entire career, being first choice in his position for more than 10 years and has a collection of winners medals which include eight Premier League titles, three FA Cup winners medals and a UEFA Champions League winner medal not once, but twice.

A graduate of ‘Fergie’s Fledglings’ which included David Beckham, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs, he has also been in England’s thoughts since Terry Venables handed him his first cap in 1995 and is still involved today, recently earning his 85th cap against Andorra in June.

He has played alongside and against some of the all time Premier League elite including Eric Cantona, Roy Keane, Cristiano Ronaldo, Alan Shearer, Gianfranco Zola and Thierry Henry – so when Gary Neville hangs up his boots, he can safely say he has had a glittering and successful career.

Even though he is seen by many football fans as annoying at times and a lap dog to Sir Alex Ferguson, often putting himself in trouble by trying to organise a backlash amongst team mates earning him the infamous label ‘Citizen Neville’ in the Media, this is eclipsed by the legendary status held in the eyes of his fans, his club and current playing staff.

When all is said and done, he is a name which frequently pops up as one of the best ever players in his position, and is a huge act for which Glen Johnson may have to follow if he turns out to be his successor. Gary Neville is a great player with huge credibility and respect worldwide.

Matt Le Tissier – “His Talent Was Simply Out Of The Norm…Sensational” – Xavi

Another Premier League big-hitter and another one club man, Matt Le Tissier, retired in 2002, has gone down in history as a Cult Legend amongst fans and peers as being an attacking midfielder blessed with exceptional technical skills. Le Tissier is the second-highest ever scorer for Southampton and was also the first midfielder to score 101 goals in the Premier League.

He famously said that he didn’t ever take training that seriously, and played a more continental style of football. He had an exceptional penalty taking record, scoring 48 out of 49 from the spot and is considered to be one of the best penalty takers ever to have played the game.

Along with the countless numbers of long range screamers, it earned him the nickname ‘Le God’ by the Southampton faithful. Le Tissier has said before that he was approached by big clubs from Italy and Spain, but decided against a move and even though there is not much evidence surrounding this claim, given his record and playing style, it wouldn’t have been too much of a surprise.

Internationally he was overlooked, playing only eight times over three years despite his impressive displays and constant nomination for Goal of the Season and Goal of the Month, he was famously snubbed by Glen Hoddle in 1998 after scoring a hat-trick for the England B team. Still loved by his own fans today and has a cult status amongst everyone else, he puts it rather well when he says:

“I played the game the way I wanted to play it, and had I gone on to a bigger club, I probably wouldn’t have been able to do that. I enjoyed being a big fish in a medium-sized pond, the person in the team that most of the fans were coming to watch, just to see if I could do something. I always played the game the way that I wanted to, and I know that on my day I was f*****g good. Yes, I did have a lot of confidence in my ability, a bit of arrogance. And to get to a certain level in the sporting arena, you do have to have a certain amount of arrogance and self-confidence. The problem comes when you get a little too much of that and don’t remember who you are and where you come from and that you aren’t perfect.”

 So the debate stands like this. If you were a retired top flight footballer, who would you rather be? The successful and reliable Gary Neville, a one club man (being at one of the best teams in the world) earning himself an impressive haul of trophies and medals, or, Matt Le Tissier, another one club man, God amongst his own fans but a gifted footballer who has no medals to his name and was overlooked internationally? Successful club and International status, or Cult God – a legend of one of the best leagues in the world? Who would you rather be?

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