Phil Neville plays 500th Premier League game

History boy Neville joins Premier League 500 club as Everton skipper faces Wigan

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UPDATED:

16:07 GMT, 26 December 2012

Phil Neville made history on Boxing Day when he became only the seventh player to make 500 appearances in the Premier League.

The Everton captain’s landmark could have come sooner were it not for surgery to correct a knee problem in November.

He wasn’t going to allow for any further delays. The club advised that Neville, who turns 36 next month, would be sidelined for up to eight weeks following his operation.

500 not out: Everton captain Phil Neville (right) in action against Wigan on Boxing Day

500 not out: Everton captain Phil Neville (right) in action against Wigan on Boxing Day

Fergie's fledgling: Phil Neville was at United from 1995

Fergie's fledgling: Phil Neville was at United from 1995

End/start: Neville left Manchester United in 2005

End/start: Neville left Manchester United in 2005

Skipper: He has led Everton with distinction since 2007

Skipper: He has led Everton with distinction since 2007

NEVILLE IN NUMBERS

19: Seasons in the Premier League… 11 at United and eight at Everton

3: Red cards 82: Yellow cards 9: Goals scored
263: Matches for United 444: starts

MILESTONES

First game: United v Manchester City (February 11, 1995)

100th: United v Middlesbrough (May 9, 1999)

200th: United v Southampton (November 2, 2002)

300th: Everton v Tottenham (August 26, 2006)

400th: Everton v Aston Villa (April 12, 2009)

TOP 10 IN THE PREMIER LEAGUE

Ryan Giggs 607
David James 572
Gary Speed 535
Frank Lampard 531
Emile Heskey 516
Sol Campbell 503
PHIL NEVILLE 499
Paul Scholes 495
Jamie Carragher 491
Mark Schwarzer 486
*Brother Gary played 400

But the warrior player reported fit for duty against West Ham on Saturday, after just 36 days.

Fondly sometimes known as the quieter brother to Mail on Sunday
columnist Gary, Neville left Manchester United in 2005 – and Toffees
boss David Moyes has more than banked the value of his 3.5million
signing.

This achievement, by its nature,
intimates his best days are behind him. But Neville’s open-minded and
modest approach to his game is shown in the way he is constantly
striving to improve, a credit to footballers of all generations.

And as Moyes observes, it’s a quality he has had throughout his career.

‘People would be amazed by the amount of work and conditioning Phil has put in to get himself right,’ said Moyes.

‘He continually works hard. He is in
every morning at 8.30am, he doesn’t leave until late. The rehabilitation
work he puts himself through — never at any stage does he complain.

‘He just continually pushed himself
to try and get back. The biggest impact that it should have on everyone
is the manner of what he has done.’

In a sparkling career stretching over 19 years, the defender has won virtually every honour in the game.

With six Premier League titles, a
three-time holder of both the FA Cup and Charity Shield and the 1999
Champions League trophy and Intercontinental Cup in the same year, the
titles which have eluded him are of little concern.

Better together: His relationship with David Moyes has helped Everton thrive

Better together: His relationship with David Moyes has helped Everton thrive

In fact, Neville’s illustrious,
10-year spell with Manchester United can account for both the silverware
and his flawless attitude.

Moyes added: ‘It says a lot about
what he’s done. But it doesn’t surprise me because his mentality and his
attitude to the game have been great since he came from Manchester
United.'

Neville has six months remaining on his current contract but there are no clues as to where, or when he career may end.

Pedigree: The midfielder has played for England 59 times, though not since 2007

Pedigree: The midfielder has played for England 59 times, though not since 2007

‘He’s been a great signing,’ Moyes
said. ‘The best person to talk about (the future) is Phil because I’ve
already spoken to him and he just wants to see how his body is.

‘He's just back from a knee operation
and he would be the first one to say that we should just see how his
knee is. I don’t think he sees any great panic in it at this moment in
time.’

While Neville has always wanted to
lift a crown with Everton as a team, this great individual record will
certainly shine on as a highlight.

SPORTSMAIL'S FIVE FAVOURITE NEVILLE MOMENTS
Phil Neville's Manchester United debut v Manchester City (February 11, 1995)

Manchester United debut v Manchester City (February 11, 1995)

Neville played at right back (right) in the fabled defence that included Bruce, Pallister and Schmeichel, as Paul Ince, Andrei Kanchelskis and Andy Cole secured a 3-0 win.

Setting up Eric Cantona at St James’ Park (March 4, 1996)

His surge down the left flank and cross for Cantona led to United beating Newcastle 1-0 and the victory gave Ferguson’s side the impetus to go on to win the Premier League title. It was the first of Neville’s six gongs.

Winning goal at Chelsea (February 28, 1998)

Neville has only scored nine goals in his 499 appearances to date but this, in a 1-0 victory, was the pick of the bunch, a bending right-foot effort that gave Dmitri Kharine no chance.

Everton debut v Manchester United (August 13, 2005)

If there were any doubts Neville would
struggle to adjust to life after Old Trafford, they were banished in
his first Everton game. Everton may have lost 2-0 but he was
outstanding.

Season-changing tackle on Cristiano Ronaldo (October 25, 2008)

Everton were in the doldrums when they
faced his old side, and losing 1-0, but a thundering challenge on
Ronaldo (below) altered the course of the game – Everton drew 1-1 – and sparked a
run that carried them to fifth.

Phil Neville's season-changing tackle on Cristiano Ronaldo (October 25, 2008)