PHIL Neville dreams of playing cricket in the Bolton League when he retires from football.
The Bury-born Everton skipper, who has six Premier League title medals to his name, revealed to The Bolton News that he intends to play for first love Greenmount Cricket Club when he hangs up his football boots.
The 36-year-old, who plans to continue his football career for a few more years yet, admits playing in the competitive surrounds of the Bolton League again is something he is relishing when he gets back in the cricketing whites he shone in before opting to follow older brother Gary into the Manchester United youth ranks as a teenager.
The former England international said: “One hundred per cent, I will play cricket again in a couple of years time if my career ends.
“That is the first thing I am going to do; I am going to get back doing something I love.
“Greenmount is my club and will always be my club.
“People sometimes fear retirement but I am looking forward to it because I can go and do something I love.”
Neville is looking forward to a return to a league he believes is one of the strongest local cricket competitions in the country in a region he describes as the hotbed of the game.
Having played in the Bolton League before, he cannot wait to make a return one day in the future.
He continued: “If you think of cricket in England, the real hotbed is in the north west.
I’ve played in the Bolton League, the Lancashire and East Lancashire Leagues.
“That’s where the top international players have had their breeding.
“I played in a Greenmount team when Mathew Haydn and Mark Taylor played.
“Shane Warne played at Haslingden and Mark Waugh played in the Bolton League as well.
“These players went on to become the best players in the world and the reason is because they played here in the north west leagues.
“They come to the north west because they get a tough, good standard of cricket and we should not lose sight of that.”
Neville was speaking at the launch of ‘The Lancashire Way’ – a initiative launched by Lancashire County cricket Club.
He is an ambassador for the scheme which promotes cricket for all.
And after representing the county alongside the likes of Andrew Flintoff as a talented youngster and playing for the second Xi at the age of just 15, Neville was only too happy to fit time in alongside his footballing commitments with the high-flying Toffees.
He added: “Lancashire were obviously looking for ambassadors that had a link to the club in a high profile position that could help with spreading the gospel of what the club do to get people into cricket.
“When I was asked, there was no hesitation because this is my first love.
“To get the chance at my stage in my life to get back involved with Lancashire County Cricket Club is great because I love going to old Trafford to watch.
“It brings back so many special memories.”+