Thursday, June 8, 2023

Paul Scholes – one of the greats

One of the greats

“Paul Scholes is the complete midfielder. He is my toughest opponent. Scholes is undoubtedly the greatest of his generation.”

It was no less an expert on the subject of midfield play who said that than Zinedine Zidane.


I really could leave this article there. It hardly needs anything else to be said about the career of the thirty-six year old Manchester United legend who announced his retirement yesterday. However, I’m not going to leave it there!

The great Bobby Charlton once said,

“Many great players have worn the shirt of Manchester United. Players I worshipped, then lost with my youth in Munich. Players like Denis Law and George Best, who I enjoyed so much as team-mates and now, finally, players I have watched closely in the Ferguson era. And in so many ways Scholes is my favourite.”


Current England midfielder and great hope for the future Jack Wilshire said,

“Scholes was top class and a great role model for any young English midfielder”.

The man regarded as the best current midfielder in the world, Xavi, was seen to break off his celebrations at the end of Barcelona’s Champions League win over Manchester United on Saturday in order to seek out Scholes and shake his hand. Xavi once referred to Scoles as ‘a reference’. He went on to say,

“A role model. For me, and I really mean this, he’s the best central midfielder I’ve seen in the last fifteen or twenty years. He’s spectacular, he has it all, the last pass, goals, he’s strong, he doesn’t lose the ball, vision. If he’d been Spanish he might have been rated more highly. Players love him.”


Scholes is a one club man who has spent seventeen years in the Manchester United first team. That career has seen him play six hundred and seventy-five games and find the net one hundred and fifty times. He has helped them to ten Premier League titles, two Champions Leagues, three FA Cups, two League Cups and a World club Cup. You can also add sixty-six international caps and fourteen goals including goals in two European championships and a World Cup.

He retired from international football at the age of twenty-nine in 2004, saying that his club career and his family life were more important. Last year, Fabio Capello asked him to come out of international retirement so that he could take him to the World Cup. Scholes refused but has since said he wasn’t given enough time to make a decision and maybe wishes he had said yes.


Off the field you rarely hear anything about Scholes who keeps himself to himself and lets his football do the talking. He has been married for twelve years and has three children. In a rare interview he once described his ideal day,

“Train in the morning, pick up my children from school, play with them, have tea, put them to bed and then watch a bit of TV.”

Whilst eulogising about Scholes it would be remiss of me not to mention that he has had some on field disciplinary problems. With ninety yellow cards and four red cards he is third most booked player in Premier League history and with thirty-two yellow cards in the Champions League he is far and away the most booked player in that competition. His tackling, which could be described as clumsy, at best, has upset some people over the years. One of those he upset was Arsene Wenger (not difficult to do!). Wenger once said,


“For me he wasn’t a fair player. I did not like some of the things he did on the football pitch.”

Even Wenger though had to add,

“I respect him highly as a quality player.”


I’ll leave the last word to Thierry Henry. When he was at the height of his prowess at Arsenal and generally regarded as being the best player in the Premier League, he was asked who he thought should be given that accolade. He replied,

“Without any doubt the best player in the Premiership has to be Scholes. He knows how to do everything.”


Graham Fisher



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