On this day 23 years ago: Gary Neville makes Manchester United debut

Manchester United 3

Sir Alex Ferguson gave Gary Neville his first taste of first team football at Manchester United in a UEFA Cup first round tie.

Back before the Europa League existed and the Champions League format allowed for more than one representative from any one country, Manchester United found themselves facing Torpedo Moscow in the UEFA Cup.

The first-leg encounter between the Red Devils and their Russian opponents at Old Trafford was a largely drab affair, ending 0-0 with United ultimately dumped out of the competition after losing on penalties in the return fixture.

But that first game, played way back on September 16th 1992 remains a significant one for a full-back who would go on to great things with United and England.

Because, with the game in the 87th minute, Alex Ferguson decided to make his first and only substitution of the night.

Having heard good things about some of the young stars coming through the ranks at the club, the Scot had decided to include Nicky Butt, David Beckham and Gary Neville among his substitutes with the European campaign far from a priority.

On this occasion, however, it was Neville who would get the nod, coming on Lee Andrew Martin – another local lad who move on to Celtic after finding his first-team opportunities limited by the influx of new young talent.

Neville, meanwhile, went on to play 602 games for Manchester United before hanging up his boots.

He may never have won the UEFA Cup with the Reds but with countless Premier League, FA Cup and League Cup honours to his name, as well as a Champions League winners medal, he achieved plenty.

And it all started 23 years ago today.

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