Giggs and Beckham take centre stage for Neville’s Manchester United bow
Last updated at 10:11 PM on 24th May 2011
Manchester United star Ryan Giggs escaped the media storm around his private life to pay tribute to long-time friend Gary Neville.
Press attention on Giggs, 37, intensified when he was named in Parliament as the married footballer involved in a controversial privacy case.
Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming used parliamentary privilege to name him as the Premier League player who took out an injunction over his alleged relationship with 28-year-old reality TV star Imogen Thomas.
A tame question about the veteran Welshman during a press conference today ahead of Saturday’s Champions League final with Barcelona led to Sir Alex Ferguson threatening to ban a journalist from future briefings.
Now police are investigating an incident that occurred near Giggs’ home in north Manchester, in which a number of vehicles belonging to members of the media were attacked.
Amid that maelstrom, Giggs probably found the football pitch a place of peace.
It certainly appeared so as he drove the low cross into Wayne Rooney’s path that put United ahead in Neville’s testimonial against Juventus.
Rooney had been a surprise inclusion and the striker lasted half an hour before he was replaced, along with Giggs and Paul Scholes.
The latter duo are members of the famed ‘Class of 92’, of which Neville was also an integral part.
With Nicky Butt, Phil Neville and David Beckham also reporting for duty, the sextet boasted an impressive 3,323 United appearances between them.
For Beckham in particular, it was an emotional night as he pulled on the famous red jersey for the first time since he left for Real Madrid in 2003.
The reception Beckham received was, if anything, more enthusiastic than the one afforded to Neville.
British bulldog: David Beckham tackles a mischievous young fan
At times, it was like the years being rolled back as the pair combined down the right flank, as they did so often for the Red Devils in their prime.
Michael Owen, who played so often alongside Neville and Beckham for England, nodded one of the full-back’s trademark crosses over.
It’s just like the old times: Neville and Beckham combined on the right flank, while Giggs (right) embarks on a mazy run
Owen also blazed over from a Bebe cross not long after Simone Pepe had equalised for Juve.
Anderson and Rafael were introduced after the break, when Beckham curled a trademark free-kick narrowly over from the edge of the area.
Neville’s night ended after 83 minutes, the former England full-back leaving the field to a well-deserved standing ovation.
By that time, Manuel Giandonato had curled home a superb winner for Juventus.