Gary Neville accused of inappropriate political statement during England celebrations

Wild scenes as Harry Kane scores for England v Denmark

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During a pulsating semi final match at Wembley Stadium in front of 60,000 fans on Wednesday evening, Gareth Southgate’s team beat Denmark 2-1 after extra time to reach their first major final since the historic 1966 World Cup win. But as millions of people celebrated after the match, Neville, who played 85 times for his country over a 12-year period, took a sly dig Mr Johnson after the game in his role as a pundit for ITV.

He said: “I have to say Gareth Southgate, his team, the staff, the players, everyone have been absolutely unbelievable and this crowd is mesmerised being in this stadium right now.

“The standard of leaders in this country over the last couple of years has been poor but looking at that man there, that’s everything a leader should be.

“Respectful, humble, tells the truth, genuine.

“He’s fantastic, Gareth Southgate. He really is unbelievable and has done a great job.”

Neville has been a vocal and frequent critic of Mr Johnson over the way his Government has managed the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the associated lockdown measures that have been enforced.

His subtle dig at the Prime Minister during the glorious celebrations after the game was praised by Alastair Campbell, the former Labour spin doctor under Tony Blair’s Government.

He tweeted: “Thank you @gnev2 and I hope someone plays that clip to the bandwagon buffoon up in the royal box.

“‘The standard of leader in this country has been awful these last two years and that man (Southgate) is everything a leader should be – honest and humble’ (and good at his job).”

However, the comments from Neville towards Mr Johnson were criticised by Brexiteer Patrick O’Flynn, who warned the former England player he shouldn’t telling viewers they had voted for the wrong person.

In reply to the tweet from Mr Campbell, the political commentator wrote: “Inappropriately and nakedly political statement from Gary Neville.

“Football analysts shouldn’t be telling voters during sports broadcasts that they voted for the wrong person.”

But Mr Campbell hit back: “He didn’t. @GNev2 contrasted one leader in one area with another leader in a different sector. And he was absolutely right.”

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Mr O’Flynn replied: “It’s a political opinion, Alastair. You happen to agree with it.

“Even I don’t entirely disagree with it in every respect. But it was an inappropriate context in which to voice it. Obviously.”

Several other people on Twitter also lashed out at the apparent criticism of Mr Johnson from Neville whilst also backing the Brexiteer.

One person wrote: “Absolutely right Patrick.

“Of all moments, England in a major final for the first time in 55 years, why pick now to make a political point?”

A second Twitter user posted: “Ruined a moment of national celebration – inserting his own politics to distract from England reaching a final.”

Another tweeted: “They wonder why so many England fans object to the politicising of our national team while still wanting them to win.”

Denmark had threatened to destroy England’s dreams of reaching the final of a major tournament for the fist time in 55 years when Mikkel Damsgaard blasted a stunning free kick past the diving Jordan Pickford.

England were level before half time thanks to an own goal from Denmark’s Simon Kjaer, but in an end-to-end nerve-shredding contest, neither side could find another breakthrough in the 90 minutes.

But in the 104th minute, Harry Kane landed the decisive blow, firing in the rebound from his penalty that had been saved by Denmark goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel to spark glorious scenes of celebration around the country.

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