Legendary Manchester United midfielder Paul Scholes has announced his retirement from football. The 36 year old midfielder retires after winning 10 Premier League titles, 3 FA cups and 2 Champions League trophies in a 17 year career spent entirely at Manchester United. Scholes will remain at the club in a coaching capacity and has been rewarded for his loyal service to the Red Devils, making 676 appearances in a Manchester United shirt, the fourth highest in the club’s history.
Scholes’ debut came in 1994 against Port Vale in a League Cup tie, where he scored both goals in a 2-1 win for United. This introduced Scholes to the world and showed his striking ability, which has been accustomed to the Salford born midfielder since he broke into the Manchester United first team. The amount of extraordinary goals that Scholes has scored is astounding. Scholes’ volleys at Valley Parade against Bradford and at Villa Park against Aston Villa are prime examples of the power, accuracy and precision that the midfielder held during his illustrious career. He would also score decisive goals too, especially a equalising goal in the San Siro against Inter Milan in the quarter finals of the 1998/99 Champions League to put United into the next phase and go on to win the whole competition.
Speaking about the retirement, Scholes said: ‘I am not a man of many words but I can honestly say that playing football is all I have ever wanted to do and to have had such a long and successful career at Manchester United has been a real honor. This was not a decision I have taken lightly, but I feel now is the right time for me to stop playing.’
During his career, Scholes was well-respected around the globe and seen as the perfect professional, shunning the celebrity limelight and rarely giving interviews with the media as he preferred to be modest and let other people take the credit for his own individual genius. Legendary figures in football, including French icon Zinedine Zidane and Spanish master Xavi, have given words of praise about Scholes, branding him ‘almost untouchable‘ and ‘the best central midfielder I have ever seen‘.
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson spoke about Scholes in glowing terms. The Scotsman said about the retirement: ‘We are going to miss a truly unbelievable player. Ferguson was the man who showed faith in the youth team back in 1994 and brought Scholes, Nicky Butt and the Neville brothers into the first team side, building a dynasty at Old Trafford cemented around the youth policy and resurrecting the beliefs of former manager Sir Matt Busby.
Scholes’ only downfall was his tackling, which was famously known to be particularly poor. He was often late and clumsy and a loose tackle in the semi-final against Juventus in 1998/99 saw Scholes booked and missed out on the legendary Champions League final against Bayern Munich. Scholes still was awarded a winners’ medal, but made up for his absence in that game by playing in the 2008 final against Chelsea in Moscow and picking up his second Champions League trophy with Manchester United.
There have been so many classic Paul Scholes moments over the years as a Manchester United player. His passing ability earned him the nickname of ’Sat Nav‘ by his United teammates and since his beginning in 1994, Scholes was always somebody who could find any player in open space. His shooting was extremely powerful and precise and could score in a numerous amount of ways, whether with his right foot, left foot or with his head. Scholes was appreciated immensely not only at Manchester United, but in all of English football and after his retirement from international football at the tender age of 29, he was still respected by the England set-up with Fabio Capello approaching Scholes to join the 2010 World Cup team for South Africa, which Scholes declined.
Scholes was played in a sparse role last season, making limited appearances, and his retirement was always on the cards. Manchester United will now look to sign a central midfield player to replace Scholes with rumours of Borussia Dortmund’s Nuri Sahin, Everton’s Jack Rodwell and Inter Milan playmaker Wesley Sneijder expected to fill the role. Scholes’ only manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, said: ‘What more can I say about Paul Scholes that I haven’t said before?’ Any superlatives about the Salford supreme have already been echoed and sentiments have been shared. Now, all that is left to do is sit back and remember the brilliance that Scholes showed through the whole of his career and look to see the new crop of young players that Scholes, in his new coaching role, will encourage to make great strides at Old Trafford and follow the perfect path laid down in Manchester.