A full-back or right midfielder during his playing days, Neal played with distinction for the Dons for 11 years making over 300 appearances and also had spells with Watford, Cardiff and Millwall, before taking on the role of Academy Manager with the Bluebirds after his retirement from playing in 2007.
Neal started preparing for a manager's role at the early age of 24, when he took his first coaching badges and he now holds the UEFA Pro coaching qualification, which helped him in his role as Academy Manager at Cardiff City, being instrumental in developing Cardiff's highly regarded youth system.
The Bluebirds appointed him as Academy Manager in 2007 with the remit of continuing the club's reputation for bringing young players through after the emergence of talented players such as Joe Ledley and Aaron Ramsay. Neal impressed in the role by guiding several players through to the first-team squad, most notably with highly-rated pair Joe Ralls and Theo Wharton.
Neal Ardley was confirmed as the manager of AFC Wimbledon on October 10, 2012. On the final day of the 2012/13 season, Ardley guided AFC Wimbledon to victory to ensure their Football League status. In his first full season in charge, the Club finished 20th in Sky Bet League Two.