United legend Phil could have been England's Ponting or Tendulkar, says Flintoff

James Jose/Dubai
Filed on April 16, 2020
England's Ashes hero Andrew Flintoff and Manchester United legend Phil Neville played for the Lancashire youth team in county cricket (AFP)

Had Neville not joined Manchester United, Flintoff would have struggled to get into the Lancashire county team

Phil Neville has been an absolute legend for Manchester United and England, with a trophy-laden career to boot.

The current England women's football team boss was the fulcrum of Sir Alex Ferguson's invincible 'Red Devils,' winning six Premier League titles apart from three FA Cups, an equal number of Community Shields, and the Uefa Champions League.

But not many know that Phil, the younger brother of Gary, another Man United and England icon, was an accomplished cricketer.

So much so that had it not been for Phil opting for a career in football as a right-back, he might have become England's 'Ricky Ponting' or 'Sachin Tendulkar,' and perhaps stalled England's Ashes hero Andrew Flintoff's county career at Lancashire.

Speaking to talkSPORT, on their Sports Breakfast show, Flintoff revealed the 'genius' that was Phil.

"I played junior cricket at Lancashire with Phil Neville. He was a year older than me and he was a cricketing genius," said Flintoff.

"If that lad would have carried on playing cricket, this is a big call, but he could have been England's Ricky Ponting or Sachin Tendulkar, he was that good. He used to turn up, open the batting and score 100 every time and after that he'd bowl everyone out!" added the blonde-ginger-haired Flintoff, who helped England win the 2005 Ashes.

"He was a quick bowler as well. He got offered a contract at Lancashire, it was something like two-and-a-half grand a year or go and play for Manchester United. Luckily, he went to United, otherwise I might have ended up at Derbyshire or something," he chuckled.

Flintoff, who went on to captain England, also gave his thoughts on Phil's brother Gary.

"Gary played as well and if you listen to Gary he was the best cricketer who ever walked the earth," he laughed before adding: "He'd have made a good club cricketer at Bolton, but Phil was the one who was amazing and such a good lad as well."

United legend Phil could have been England's Ponting or Tendulkar, says Flintoff (KT23897416.JPG)

Phil's brother Gary also played cricket and scored an unbeaten 110 alongside Australian opener Matthew Hayden (140 not out) to help Greenmount reach the Bolton League's Hamer Cup final in 1992 

Phil, capped 59 times by England, made 378 appearances for United in a career spanning over a decade.

He also spent eight years with Everton before calling time. He was part of United's coaching staff in 2013 before going on to take up similar roles with Salford City and La Liga club Valencia.

He is currently the co-owner of Salford City with several of his former United mates - brother Gary, Nicky Butt, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and David Beckham.

And, 'Freddie' Flintoff, Phil's old friend, played 79 Tests and 141 ODIs apart from seven T20Is for England. The Man of the Series in the 2005 Ashes epic, Flintoff was named ICC Player of the Year, BBC Sports Personality of the Year and was appointed MBE in the same year.

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