As strange as it may seem watching two brothers play for an elite football team simultaneously, Manchester United fans are getting accustomed to that view since the mid 90’s. It has become some sort of a trademark of the club and this should continue for many any years to come. It all started when Gary and Phil Neville came from youth ranks and successfully protected both United and England defense for more than a decade. Brazilian pair Rafael and Fabio Da Silva received the symbolic baton from the Neville's and have been running down the flanks since they arrived from Fluminense four years back.[ Now it’s the Keane twins, but non identical, turn. They are currently bidding their time but they are highly-rated and both have been tipped for remarkable careers in professional football, so do not rule out the possibility of the surname Keane regularly appearing again twice on Manchester United's team-sheet very soon...
Gary Alexander Neville is a rare example of one-club man who made 602 appearances and scored 7 goals, before hanging [up] his boots in 2011 and becoming a prominent TV pundit. In 19 seasons, the older of the Neville brothers won 21 trophies, including 8 Premier League, 3 FA Cup and 2 Champions League, for the Red Devils and during a marvelous career, added 85 England caps to his name. Gary Neville was appointed by England football national team manager Roy Hodgson as assistant coach in 2012. He was not the most skillful player of his generation by any means, but his work ethic and desire to be a top-player earned him a place amongst all-time Manchester United legends.
Phillip John Neville made 386 appearances and scored 8 goals before moving to Everton in a reported £3.5 million deal in search of more minutes of pitch time. His versatility made him soon an instrumental player for the Toffees and eventually became their captain. During his spell at Old Trafford, Phil Neville won 14 trophies, including 6 Premier League, 3 FA Cup and 1 Champions League. Once a Red, always a Red, you should not be shocked if you come across with him at the stands of Old Trafford cheering for his beloved team.
Rafael Pereira Da Silva has established himself as Manchester United’s first-choice at right back this season following a string or consistent performances. Last summer was a turning point for Rafael, as he made his debut for Brazil’s senior squad and won a silver medal at London’s 2012 Olympics. After four seasons of lights and shadows he has finally fulfilled his potential becoming one of the best full backs of the Premier League. If he keeps performing this way, he will certainly be in consideration to represent his nation at Brazil's 2014 World Cup Championship.
Fábio Pereira Da Silva has seen his career at Manchester United marred by injuries. Although he started in the 2011 Champions League final and made his debut for Brazil’s senior team soon afterwards, his chances have always been limited by a fierce competition from left-back regular incumbent Patrice Evra, so last summer he wisely decided to go on loan for a full season to Queen’s Park Rangers, where he has made 17 appearances and scored a goal in all competition so far. All being well, Fábio will return to Manchester in a few months as a more rounded player and ready to push for more minutes.
William David Keane is a proven goal scorer who, because of his talent to be in the right place at the right time, has been compared to both Spanish and Norwegian legends Raúl González and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Will Keane has already featured three times for England Under-21 and made his debut in the Premier League in the shock 3-2 defeat to Blackburn Rovers at Old Trafford on December 2011. However, his unstoppable path to professional football was dramatically halted the last summer, as the striker sustained a horrific injury, while being on international duty with England Under-19, which has prevented him from playing any minute this season. Fortunately, it looks like William is on his way back and could be playing with the Reserves in a few weeks time. Once he is fully fit, a loan move, likely the next season, could be on the cards in order to further boost his options to become a Manchester United player.
Drawing a comparison between Gary Neville and Michael Vincent Keane seems inevitable. Both are die-hard United fans since childhood, play at right back and have progressed through the ranks because of their hard work and determination. Michael Keane made his debut on the 3-0 win at Aldershot Town and is now an England Under-19 international after having previously represented Ireland. The no-nonsense defender is enjoying a brilliant season, as he played twice with Manchester United in the League Cup against top-flight opposition (2-1 win vs. Newcastle United and 5-4 loss vs. Chelsea) prior to be loaned to Championship’s Leicester City, where he is impressing week in and week out. An all-British quartet made of Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling, Jonny Evans guarantees the future of the heart of United's defense for many years to come.
The Keane brothers have already tasted what winning trophies is about, as they guided Manchester United Reserves to a remarkable treble in the 2011-12 season, including the Premier Reserve League North, the Premier Reserve League National and the Manchester Senior Cup, with Will netting 19 times in the process and Michael wrapping up his brilliant season by achieving a fully deserved Reserve Player of the Year Award.
We could still be talking about a fourth generation of brothers playing for the Premier League table-toppers, as Reece Brown (Wesley's younger brother) is a regular for the Reserves, although his chances to play for the first-team seem limited. He was close to make his debut when he was an unused substitute on United's 3-0 win against Leeds United at Elland Road in the 2011/12 League Cup. It is no coincidence this unusual phenomenon happens so often at Manchester United, at the end of the day the sense of belonging to a family has not been lost in the heart of the world's most popular football club.