The former Manchester United and England legend was generally regarded as the best centre-back since the start of the European Premier League. The ball-playing defender that changed the way backs were thought of talked to FourFourTwo to impart some knowledge.
"You have to be willing to put your foot in when you need to or throw your head into situations where you're likely to get hurt. There have been occasions where I know I'm going to get clattered if I make a challenge. But what can you do? You have to make that challenge. I don't know how some players can jump out of a challenge. I just can't get my head around how you could let yourself do that. I'd be embarrassed. If the ball's there to be won you simply have to go for it."
The right partner
"Playing alongside the right partner can make a huge difference. I'm a big believer in having two different types of central defenders. Ideally you'd have one who likes to attack the ball and win headers, while the other sweeps up and reads the game to intercept trouble before it gets serious. I don't think it works as well if you are too similar. You need a balance. We've had that at United with myself and Nemanja Vidic. He'll put his head through a brick wall to make a clearance, but can definitely play a bit as well."
With the ball
"Defenders now, more than ever, need to be comfortable on the ball. You need to be able to make decisions quickly and know when to play with the ball and when to get the ball safely up the field. I liked to play with the ball and get into a position with the whole field in front of me. For example from a goal kick, it helps to collect the ball to the side of the 18-yard box. Means you avoid having to turn blindly into danger. Worst case scenario, it goes for the throw in, but rarely a goal scoring opportunity for the opposition."