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Learning Curve Gary Neville on his 'hectic' life and getting Irish students to his university

"I like to be active and when you take things on, you have to go for them."

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Gary Neville

Gary Neville

Gary Neville

HE could have settled for life on easy street after a trophy-laden soccer career came to an end, but that would never have been enough for Gary Neville.

His role as a Sky Sports pundit has been his highest profile role since he hung up his boots for the last time a decade ago, yet Neville's actives away from the TV cameras represent a remarkable tribute to his dedication and drive to succeed.

Alongside his former Manchester United team-mates David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Nicky Butt, Paul Scholes and brother Phil, Neville is driving a series of business ventures across Manchester that includes hotels, a thriving University and Football League club Salford City.

On top of all that, he still finds time for a highly successful YouTube channel and personal social media network boasting millions of followers.

This is an inspirational story on so many levels and as Neville spoke to the Sunday World in an exclusive interview, this eight-time Premier League title winner confirmed his hectic life provides a daily challenge that he embraces.

"At the end of our careers, myself and the other lads who came through the ranks at United like I did decided we wanted to do projects that could impact the biggest number of young people in Manchester in a positive way and to offer as much opportunity as possible," begins Neville,

"We got that opportunity when we were at Manchester United and managed to take it, but you need that stage to perform on and someone has to give you that.

"Running this many businesses is hectic, but I like to be active and when you take things on, you have to go for them.

"I did an interview with my Sky Sports colleague Jamie Carragher for my YouTube channel a few weeks back and he said his days consist of a trip to the gym in the morning and then having lunch with his mates.

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  Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher 
Action Images via Reuters/Carl Recine

Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher Action Images via Reuters/Carl Recine

Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher Action Images via Reuters/Carl Recine

"Compared to what I do, that sounded relaxing, but I think I'd get bored very quickly.

"I like to be active, I like to contribute to the city I come from the wider area. At the end of my career, I wanted to invest my time and money into big projects that made a difference."

The University Academy 92 in Manchester has broken new ground with its innovative approach to education, as Neville outlines a vision to build characters and personalities as well as offer degree-level education taking learning to a different place.

It is an environment Neville is hoping will be attractive for Irish students looks to forge a career in digital, media, sport and business, with UA92 focusing on areas that are similar to Neville's business portfolio.

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"We wanted to have a university that disrupts the conventional set-up and to do something a bit different and UA92 was built with that philosophy in mind," he states.

"You have to put yourself in a live scenario and the best way to learn is to do it and not just sit and listen to lectures on how to do it.

"We want to put our students in a position that pushes them, not too far, but gives them experience that will be relevant to them in their working life.

"Where we are based Manchester, right next to Old Trafford cricket ground and down the road from Manchester United, so it is a great place to do subjects like media and sport.

"You are in a hotbed of sport and media and we are passionate about those subjects.

"We are at the early stages of building a university and while our student numbers have doubled in the last year, we want to kick on the concept and idea of UA92 is out there for all to see.

"Now we would love to see as many students from Ireland to come to Manchester and share that experience with us and I hope some people reading this might consider coming to join us at UA92 for their further education.

"We have got some students from Ireland and it would be great to have more considering UA92 for their University life.

"I have had so many great experiences with Irish team-mates and in Ireland itself and the people there have a spirit and energy that I would compare to the northern spirit in England.

"You have people will good humour, a good work ethic, fighting spirit to succeed and I see a lot of similarities with Manchester to Ireland.

"So if students came from Ireland to study at UA92, I think they would feel at home."

Neville's businesses were all hit by the Covid crisis, but he insists an ability to fend off adversity served him well in his sporting career and those same qualities are helping him in his hectic sporting afterlife.

"The philosophy behind all our business is to work with good people first, no matter whether they have the right certificate of education," he added. "That's how I felt our manager Alex Ferguson worked at Manchester United and it was vital to the success we enjoyed.

"Gary Neville was not the best full-back in the world and Nicky Butt, Tom Cleverley, John O'Shea, Wes Brown and Ji-Sung Park were not the most talented players in the team.

"Don't get me wrong, we had some world class talent in our team, but we also had great personalities in there with great resilience and that was one of the big reasons why we were so successful.

"That inspired harmony in our team and we are trying to create an academic experience that recreates that."

Manchester United's winning mentality from the Ferguson era still shines through in everything Neville does, with the ripple effect of his enduring ambition now inspiring the next generation.

For more information on UA92 and the degree courses they offer, click HERE

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