GARY NEVILLE has admitted he suffered like Cristiano Ronaldo during the final years of his Manchester United career.
Ronaldo, 37, has been out of favour at Old Trafford this season, starting just two of the Red Devils‘ 13 Premier League games.
And his refusal to come on as a substitute during the 2-0 win over Spurs led to manager Erik ten Hag axing him from the squad for their 1-1 draw with Chelsea at the weekend.
It has caused a huge amount of uncertainty surrounding the Portuguese legend’s future at the club.
And while Neville has urged Ronaldo to stop “whining”, he also sympathises with his current position.
The former England right-back, 47, made just 36 Prem appearances during his final four seasons with United.
And he has revealed the arrival of Brazilian youngster Rafael brought the curtain down on his 19-year career.
Speaking on the Gary Neville podcast, he said: “There were moments in my career where I thought, âRafaelâs gone in, John OâSheaâs gone in, Wes Brownâs gone in’.
“I watched Brown play a full season and win a Champions League.
“[Brown] Heâs a great lad, brilliant player, and I was delighted for him, [but] of course I wanted to be in the team, of course I wanted to be out there and be captain, but I wasnât.
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“Then Rafael came into training. It was Rafael who actually finished my career mentally, in some ways, because I used to watch him in training, get close to players and snap into tackles, and then get up and get back out there again, and I couldnât get my legs forward.
“I thought, âI get it, I see itâ.”
Neville hung up his boots in 2011 after nearly two decades with United.
Rafael, who arrived at Old Trafford alongside twin brother Fabio in 2008, would go on to make 170 appearances for the Premier League giants.
He eventually left to join Lyon in 2015, before a spell with Istanbul Basaksehir led him to Brazilian club Botafogo – where he is now plying his trade.
Meanwhile, it remains to be seen whether Ronaldo will remain at United, with the Real Madrid icon heavily linked with a move away in January.
And Neville feels it is best for everyone involved that Ronaldo leaves Old Trafford.
“I hope he leaves next week so they (Ronaldo and Ten Hag) can shake hands,” he added.
“I hope he leaves next week and says to the club thank you very much and the club says to him thank you very much and then he goes and finds a new club because I’d like to see him go and play until he’s 42 scoring a thousand goals…
“I know it sounds crazy but you can be a better team without players who are just goalscorers, and that’s happened time and time again.
“Mark Hughes wasn’t the greatest goalscorer in the world but within you’re a better team then with someone you can’t hit or can’t play off.
“Cristiano has just become a natural goalscorer – plays within the width of the box – (but) Erik ten Hag doesn’t want to play that way.”
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