Gary Neville has won eight Premier League titles, three FA Cups, two League Cups, two Champions League titles and a FIFA Club World Cup – so you’d think he’s seen it all. But judging Tuesday’s Red Bull Street Style World Final was an eye-opener, even for him.
Freestyle football is all about combining out-of-the-box creativity with out-of-the-ordinary skill. In the Red Bull Street Style format, two freestylers go head-to-head in three-minute matches, escalating their tricks to respond to the challenges of their opponent. Judging is based on technical difficulty and style as well as creativity. The event is brought to you in partnership with F3, the Freestyle Football Federation.
Watch highlights in the clip below.
Neville was already familiar with freestyle football, but witnessing the skills up close at London's Roundhouse has been a revelation for him. One of his fellow judges was 2008 Red Bull Street Style champion, Arnaud ‘Séan’ Garnier, who was on hand to get the former England star up to speed with the kinds of tricks he’d be seeing.
“I was aware of the Roundhouse of course, but this is my first time here and it’s amazing – a really good atmosphere,” said Neville.
“With the people all around, it’s absolutely unbelievable for a skills competition”– Gary Neville
Before the event, Neville was asked how he would go about judging the freestylers. “The personality of the performer will be important – how they demonstrate their skills,” he said. “ In the end it comes down to my gut feeling.”
Later, after seeing the world’s top freestylers deliver their very best and awarding the World Championship honours, Neville was astonished.
“I'm absolutely stunned. It’s one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen people do with a football – out of this world,” he said. “I would never be able to do what these players are doing.
"The skills are mind-blowing. It’s an achievement, really”– Gary Neville
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