Gary Neville reveals his favourite ‘away’ ground with many loving his answer when doing a Monday Night Football Q&A recently.
The Manchester United legend turned vocal pundit has played at some of the biggest and best grounds within European football.
But when asked to name any of the best to have been at outside of Old Trafford, he wasn’t shy with coming forward to give a response.
Neville once again confirmed that Villa Park of Aston Villa remains to be his favourite, and has no shortage of happy memories on B6, earning himself many a famous victory galore taking place at Villa’s famous old ground.
It’s not the first time that the ex-England international picked Villa Park as his best-loved stadium to play in.
He echoed the sentiments that he described earlier in the 2019/20 season when Dean Smith’s men ran out 2-0 winners against Everton.
Neville said: “There are some great new grounds in the Premier League.
“This is an old ground, but don’t change it because it has got everything that you would need.”
It was a passionate home crowd on that occasion and it also promises to deliver with many a football fan ranking Villa Park high when it comes to how much they love it.
It’s not only the former United skipper that appreciates the ground and the fanbase, with former Villa captain Jack Grealish, also revealing how the atmosphere helped to drive them on in vital matches that saw them get much needed wins.
“That is the one thing,” he said after the 2-0 victory against Everton a few years back, “We couldn’t believe the atmosphere, they’ve all said it, the lads, they couldn’t believe that Everton game, Friday night under the lights. I knew it was going to be like that, knew it.
“I’ve seen videos on Twitter after and stuff. I can’t explain just how much it helps the lads when the stadium’s like that. We’re hoping for the same again against West Ham.”
That game finished 0-0, but they’ve remained in the Premier League ever since, enduring their third campaign in a row since falling into the second tier – spending three years in that between 2016 and 2019 – before finding their way back to the big time.
Again in April 2020, he said: “I absolutely love this place.
“My favourite away ground when I think about the great FA Cup semi-finals and the great league games we (Manchester United) had here.
“It does feel right that Aston Villa are back in the Premier League.
“It’s a great football club, with a great history.”
In an interview where he was discussing who he could have played for if he had been shown the exit at Old Trafford.
“If Sir Alex had said at 28 I had to go, I’d have said Newcastle, Arsenal and Aston Villa were the three clubs would be the ones (I’d have gone to),” he said.
“If you’d said to me in a perfect world in my years of playing in the Premier League, which clubs did I think were proper clubs and had a bit of tradition?
“In the Premier League it would be Arsenal – not that they would ever want me.
“I also like Aston Villa. Newcastle are another club (I’d have played for).
“I would never have played for (Man) City or Liverpool or Leeds United in a million years.”
Those feelings likely come from Villa being at the top when Neville was growing up – he would’ve been seven years old when Villa won the European Cup.
“There’s something about what Nottingham Forest and Aston Villa did that defies the points system we have put in place because the fact that the nature of the clubs, it was unexpected to do what they did, and even now, we’ve not even put the Leicester team in of a few years ago that won the league but that still goes down for me as the greatest achievement I’ve ever seen in English football,” he said in February.
“But when you talk about greatness, you have to talk about sustained success.”
The 19/20 season saw the West Midlands outfit finish in 17th position, a worrying campaign, before going on to turn it around fantastically for 20/21 ending up in 11th.
We love how the Aston Villa website summed up their stadium and the area.
“Even the name has a special ring to it, so much so that Hollywood megastar Tom Hanks imagined it being located on Italy’s Amalfi Coast.
“The actual location of Villa Park, in the Witton area of Birmingham, may not be as aesthetically pleasing – but for many people it is equally romantic.
“As Simon Inglis observed in his excellent 1997 book Villa Park, 100 Years, ‘There are football grounds and football grounds. Then there is Villa Park.’
“As a lifelong follower of the boys in claret and blue, Inglis’s view is obviously biased, although it is shared by thousands of football supporters whose allegiances lie elsewhere.
“Wembley may be the spiritual home of English football, but Villa Park is a close second.
“The club’s home since 1897, the ground sits in the shadow of the Jacobean stately home Aston Hall and has evolved over the years into a magnificent all-seated arena with a capacity of more than 42,000. And it has done so without ever losing its charm.
“It is no stranger to major events, either, having hosted matches at both the 1966 World Cup and the European Championships in 1996.
“The famous stadium is one of a select few that has staged international fixtures over three different centuries, the first senior international taking place in 1899. In addition, it was a regular venue for FA Cup semi-finals before they were moved to Wembley.
“Villa Park also had the honour of hosting the last-ever European Cup Winners’ Cup Final between Italian side Lazio and Spanish club Real Mallorca in 1999, as well as the 2012 FA Community Shield match when Chelsea faced Manchester City.
“But it is not just football that has graced our spiritual home.
“Villa Park has also been the setting for concerts from music stars such as Bruce Springsteen, Barry White, Duran Duran, Take That and Bon Jovi.
“And in 2015, two Rugby World Cup group stage fixtures took place in B6.”
Whilst Gary Neville has often voiced his love for Villa Park, he has also said on LADbible TV that Rangers’ stadium Ibrox has one of the best when it comes to atmosphere.
“Ibrox. Honestly, we played them up there in the Champions League game.
“Celtic Park was incredible. Turkey, Istanbul, Galatasaray, is probably the most ferocious atmosphere that I have ever seen, but Ibrox is definitely the loudest.
“I remember before the game at the point around kickoff, just before, I don’t think I have heard noise like it.
“That’s all the greatest stadiums around Europe and the world. It was unbelievable, it was absolutely unbelievable.”
Fans reacted as Gary Neville reveals his favourite ‘away’ ground with many loving his answer…
@dinge79: Good choice Gary
@ToneTravels: Always liked @GNev2!! #avfc #utv #villapark
@jonnyj2k: We had some fun there in the noughties didn’t we, Gary.
@mkells15: Amen to that.
@Bisqwit: Is that because you only ever lost there once as a player, Gary?
@DebsKnapp: Loved villa park, especially the Chips yummmmm. Always a cracking atmosphere.
@twhemming: Won there enough ffs
@scottjacksonno1: Would you bring back semis played at villa Park and Old Trafford?
@danm7163: @KieranMidha G Nev knows
@AVFCjc: Neville for PM