Javier Hernandez in tears after transfer admission and Ferguson apology

For most footballers, playing for a team like Manchester United is the pinnacle.

It means you've reached the top of your game and, in theory, you're now working towards winning lots of silverware.

Leaving a club like Manchester United usually means the opposite.

It generally means you're no longer needed, you're perhaps on your way out, and with that comes the realisation that you are no longer at the peak of your powers.

Football can be a brutal game, but in the end there are very few who look back in anger at what once was. In fact, most look back nostalgically.

Here are five emotional Manchester United endings that perfectly highlight what playing for the Red Devils means.

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Phil Neville

Kicking things off is Neville, who endured a very emotional Manchester United exit before joining Everton in 2005.

His brother Gary actually spoke about his exit on his behalf, admitting more than a few tears were shed during a meeting with Sir Alex Ferguson.

Gary told Sky Sports' Off Script Podcast: "Phil rang me up one Sunday and said 'I've made a decision, I want to leave'.

"I said it's a big call, you're playing a lot of games at United, you're winning trophies but he wanted to leave.

"We actually went around Sir Alex's house that night and went to see him.

"I remember there being a few tears, it's even emotional now because I'd been at United since the age of 11 and Phil had been there since he was 13, going to see Sir Alex to say that he wants to leave, that Phil wanted to go and play football every single week."

Javier Hernandez

Not strictly an exit, but this was the moment Hernandez knew that he no longer had the capability to play for a team like Man United, and his "dream" had come to an end.

Chicharito was actually filmed just before he joined LA Galaxy, where he knew he was going to be playing football at a lower level than he was used to.

He breaks down in tears in the video, saying: "I wanted to speak to you guys because the thing is about to get done.

"It's almost certain that I'm going to LA. It's okay, everything is perfect, it's only that, well it's like the beginning of my retirement."

Hernandez's father interjects, but he continues: "Dad, try to understand me. Don't worry, look what I mean is that we're saying goodbye to a career that we put a lot of effort on and we worked, and I know you guys also feel it.

"We're going to look at the bright side, but whether we like it or not we are retiring from the European dream."

Ruud van Nistlerooy

For such a huge player for Manchester United, Van Nistlerooy's exit was understated and entirely disappointing.

It occurred shortly after the Red Devils had beaten Cardiff City 4-0 in the 2006 Carling Cup final, in which the Dutchman was named on the bench.

Van Nistlerooy was angry that he wasn't on the pitch, and ended up swearing at Ferguson as things threatened to turn ugly in the dugout.

Ferguson later revealed that the exchange ultimately ended Van Nistlerooy's career at United, with the striker leaving in that summer's transfer window.

Van Nistlerooy went on to play for Real Madrid, but in 2010 decided to bring closure to that chapter in his life, and gave Ferguson a call.

"I had been thinking about it for a while and talking it through with my wife," Van Nistelrooy explained.

"Two or three times every year I would think to myself what a shame it was that it had ended like it did with Ferguson. I wanted to do something about it.

"My wife suggested I send Ferguson a text to see if he was willing to talk and when I sent him a message asking if I could ring him he replied to say: 'OK, call me at this date and time.'

"I rang him and he answered and said: 'OK, fine, go ahead.' I said I wanted to apologise for what had happened and he replied: 'Fine, I appreciate that, when we meet again it will be OK.' That was great to know."

Ryan Giggs

The winger is one of Manchester United's most important players of the past two decades, so it should come as no surprise that his exit was an emotional one.

The Welshman was overcome by the realisation that after 23 seasons at United he was no longer able to do what he once did, and admits he broke down.

Giggs did have a short spell as interim boss at United, but this appears to have only made him more emotional as it put him under additional pressure.

Giggs explained in 2014: "We got off the plane at Manchester Airport.

"I was saying goodbye to the players, thanking them. And I'm not an emotional – well, I didn't think I was.

"I'm not a really emotional person but my car was parked right outside and I thought: 'I need to get in my car here'. I could feel myself getting emotional.

"So I get in my car and I just went, started crying, started getting really emotional and I think it was just a mixture of saying goodbye to people for maybe the last time and the pressure that I put myself under [as interim manager].

"Sounds stupid now, but it's just not me, it's just not me at all."

Nicky Butt

Another story emotional Man United exit recalled by Gary Neville, who remembers Butt leaving Old Trafford for Newcastle and the Class of '92 effectively breaking up.

Neville told Sky Sports' Off Script Podcast: "I was devastated because it felt like the gang was breaking up. I remember exactly the moment when Phil Neville and Nicky Butt left.

"We were on tour in America with Nicky, we always knew what each other was thinking all the time, we'd always go around to each other's rooms, we'd always be sat in the same seats on the bus talking to each other, so there wasn't anything about each other that we didn't know.

"Nicky had become a little bit more frustrated with 25-30 games a season, in the team and out the team, he said he wants to go and play for Newcastle, he feels like he needs to be number one, doesn't want to be three or four anymore.

"I remember him leaving that tour in America and going back to England to sign for Newcastle. The only feeling I've ever had like that in football is when Gazza, Phil or Nicky were left out of the England squad in 1998.

"When you see your team-mate leaving, it was extremely sad and Nicky leaving was a big disappointment."

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