Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed that Gary Neville spent part of his career trying to barter better deals for Manchester United's rising young stars.
And that is one of the reasons why he feels the former England right-back would be ideally suited to coaching the next generation now he has retired.
Ferguson said: "Gary has been a terrific example to all the young players here. At times he has helped these young players with their contracts.
"Time and again he has been prepared to fight their corner and make sure they get the right deal.
"I don't know how many times that door has been opened and I've said, 'What now Gary, I have already spoken to you about the boy's contract'.
"'No,' he has replied, 'I think you can do better'. But that's him looking after the young players and they all owe him a debt.
"We should have that presence and coaching ability Gary has at the academy. I do think he has a role to play as a coach, I really do, particularly with the young players.
"He is taking his badges. He is ready to go into coaching and we will just find a role for him. We want him to stay."
Neville's last match was in the 2-1 victory against West Brom on New Year's Day when he suffered an ankle injury.
Ferguson said: "Gary will remain with the team. He will train whenever he wants. The next step forward for our club is to retain Gary in a capacity in which he will be satisfied.
"That's because I feel his contribution and what he can contribute in future years is about what we are. We are a family club and he has been part of that.
"He has created that family atmosphere in the dressing room time and time again over the years."
Ferguson believes this last injury was the final straw for Neville.
"He had this ankle injury and I think that is what really accelerated things for him, " said the United boss.
"If you look at the last four years he's had nothing but injuries. The amazing thing is how he came back from his injuries time and time again.
"Eventually I think, getting that ankle injury in the West Brom game, he felt enough was enough."
Neville may have won 85 England caps and eight titles, yet Ferguson was not convinced in the early years about his ability to play at the highest level.
Ferguson said: "There are two parts to Gary. He was a determined, energetic centre-back in the youth team of 1992 and played centre-back all the way through.
"It was obvious to us height was going to be a problem in terms of having a career at centre-back. That's when we started to alter his role to right-back.
"In those days he wasn't the best crosser of the ball, he wasn't the best passer of the ball but by his own determination and practice, as he did every day, he improved all that.
"He made himself a top player. I couldn't see him being a real top player when he came. Then in the latter part he was. Eighty-five caps for England and 602 games for us is testimony to that."
Neville is almost certain of being granted a testimonial and what the club see as a fitting farewell to the United supporters.
Ferguson said: "That is in the pipeline. We are trying to fix a date, there is something provisional, nothing definite."Reuse content