Page last updated at 17:40 GMT, Wednesday, 2 July 2008 18:40 UK

Neville in court over leg break

Gary Neville
Gary Neville told the hearing Collett would have had a "successful" career

Manchester United's Gary Neville has told a court a player would have had a "successful career" had a bad tackle not ended his career prematurely.

Ben Collett is seeking multi-million damages after his career with Manchester United was brought to an end five years ago at the age of 18.

He broke his leg in a reserve game in May 2003. Middlesbrough FC's Gary Smith and the club have admitted liability.

The hearing at Manchester High Court is to decide the level of damages.

Mr Collett, who is now studying, joined United's youth academy, aged nine, and was part of the club's FA Youth Cup-winning team in 2003.

It was a certainty for any football person to see that Ben would have gone on to be a top level football player
Gary Neville, Manchester United captain

The match against Middlesbrough was his first game for United's reserve team but a "negligent" tackle by Gary Smith left his right leg broken in two places.

Speaking at the hearing, Gary Neville said: "There's no doubt in my mind that he would have had a long and successful football career.

"I would have expected a no-brainer for him to go and be a top level football player.

"It was a certainty for any football person to see that Ben would have gone on to be a top level football player.

"Ben had a really good quality on the ball, was a fantastic team player, with the desire and willingness to want to be a fantastic football player."

On Monday United manager Sir Alex Ferguson told the hearing that Collett had been "A-class" and that he would have had an "outstanding chance" of becoming a full-time professional if he had not been injured.

The court heard Collett could have earned more than 13,000 a week, making a total in excess of 16m, if he had played until the age of 35.

The hearing continues.


SEE ALSO
Ferguson in court over leg break
01 Jul 08 |  England
Ferguson releases six youngsters
01 Apr 05 |  Man Utd

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