Former England international footballer Gary Neville says his refusal to sing God Save the Queen during the Euro 96 tournament was due to a protest against the Football Association.
A video of the ex-Manchester United right-back standing in stony silence while the national anthem played has resurfaced online recently, after football fans argued over Liverpool defender Trent Alexander-Arnold staying quiet while his team-mates sang during England’s recent Nations League fixture against Hungary on 4 June.
Some Liverpool fans booed the anthem when it was played ahead of the Carabao Cup and FA Cup finals against Chelsea earlier this year, with manager Jurgen Klopp calling the club’s supporters ‘wonderful people’ who ‘had a reason to boo.’
Neville, though, says he regrets not signing the anthem during the tournament held on home soil, calling it a ‘big mistake’ which was due to his ‘stubbornness.’
The Sky Sports pundit explained that he didn’t sing the album on his England debut because he was concentrating on focusing his mind, and then refused to do so afterwards when FA boss Geoff Thompson told him: ‘You must sing the anthem.’
‘I didn’t sing it the first time I played for England, partly because I thought “I’m serious about my work and I’m not singing before a game”. I said “I’m not being told by some suits what to do”.’
Neville gave further insight into his dealing with Thompson on the matter in a 2011 Daily Mail column.
‘He [Thompson] only ever sought out one conversation with me,’ Neville recalled. ‘Did he want to pick my brains on World Cup preparation? Or ask how the FA could help behind the scenes? No, Mr Thompson wanted to know why I didn’t sing the National Anthem.
‘”Gary, we’d rather appreciate it if you joined in,” he said. I had to politely explain that no disrespect was intended, I preferred to spend those few minutes, as I’d done all my career, focusing on the match. And that was the extent of my dealings with the chairman of the FA.’
47-year-old Neville made a total of 85 England appearances between 1995 and 2007.
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