Home > Football > Paul Scholes: Football’s Quiet Man

Paul Scholes: Football’s Quiet Man

September 17, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

In an era in which football seems to be as much about celebrity as it is scoring goals, Paul Scholes is a breath of fresh air. He does not have huge endorsement contracts with the likes of Nike or Adidas, nor does he model Armani underwear. Unlike former Manchester United teammates David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo, Scholes is not a darling of the media and has preferred to keep himself on the back pages of the newspapers by eschewing the trappings of a career as a Premiership footballer. Nor has he courted controversy in the way fellow greats such as Zinedine Zidane and Diego Maradona did during their much celebrated careers. He simply plays football at a level of which most others can only dream.

The Manchester United midfielder made his debut in a League Cup match against Port Vale back in September 1994 (a game in which he found the net twice) and his longevity at the top level of world football is testament to both his quality and his professionalism. In a career spanning 16 years (and counting), Scholes has evolved from a goal-scoring, attacking midfielder to one who sits deep and controls games through pin point passing and vision. The reason Scholes has been able to make such a transition seamlessly is his technical footballing ability. Passing; shooting; heading; Scholes can do it all; well, except maybe tackle, as 100 plus yellow cards testify.

Scholes may not have received the hype that the likes of Beckham; Ronaldo; Rooney; Kaka; Messi and Zidane have from the media, but the opinions of those best placed to make an assessment speak volumes about Paul Scholes’s quality.

Zinedine Zidane, widely regarded as the best player of his generation, has said that one of his greatest regrets was not having had the opportunity to play alongside Scholes. He described the Salford native as the best player he ever played against and lauded him as: “undoubtedly the best player of his generation.” Zidane is not the only footballing great to lavish praise on the Manchester United midfield maestro. World Cup- and Champions League-winning coach Marcelo Lippi stated: “Paul Scholes would have been one of my first choices for putting together a great team,” and Edgar Davids candidly admitted: “Every one of us (midfielders) is just trying to become as good as him.” Closer to home Sam Allardyce called him the “best midfielder in the world.”

Only a few seasons ago, Scholes suffered a serious eye injury which kept him out of action for several months and upon his return, many questioned whether his performance level had dipped. Sir Alex Ferguson kept faith with his man and it paid dividends. Once Scholes returned to full match fitness, he was an integral part of the Manchester United side that regained its Premiership crown in 2007 and then added the Champions League the following season, thus giving Scholes the opportunity to play in a final he had missed through suspension nine years earlier. He has continued to go from strength to strength and currently seems indispensable. Whilst the days of double digit scoring seasons are now gone, he has started to find the net again after a lean couple of seasons and his ability to control a game from midfield is matched only by Barcelona’s Xavi. In fact, Scholes’s resurgence has been so impressive that it caught the eye of England manager Fabio Capello.

Paul Scholes has started the season in sensational form (This image is the property of AP)

Prior to the World Cup, Scholes was given the opportunity to come out of international retirement and represent his country for the first time in six years. Unfortunately for England, Scholes declined and how The Three Lions could have used him in a tournament in which they looked incapable of passing the salt let alone a football. Scholes has since said that he regrets his decision and that he wishes he had played in South Africa. He is not the only one to have this wish. The midfielder added that he was given less than a day to make his decision and that Capello did not call him personally. This may be the greatest error of the Italian’s long and illustrious managerial career.

Scholes’s England career is one of the great tragedies of the modern game. This may seem a strange thing to say given that he won 66 caps and scored 14 goals, including three at major tournaments, but he retired from international football at the age of just 29. Despite being a key player for England, Scholes was increasingly deployed on the left side of a four man midfield under Sven Göran Eriksson as the Swede looked to accommodate the pairing of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard in the centre of the field. It was not a position that suited the Manchester United man and this, coupled with a desire to prolong his club career, led to Scholes making himself unavailable for international duty in August 2004.

Sir Alex Ferguson believes it is a decision from which Scholes has benefitted as he has been able to rest and remain fresh during international breaks, and given his recent form for the Red Devils, it is difficult to argue. Scholes’s form at the beginning of the season has been nothing short of sensational as he has showcased a marvellous range of passing, unrivalled vision and he is even off the mark in terms of goals. His performances have earned him the Premiership Player of the Month award for August and if he continues in this vein, you can bet he will be offered another one year extension by the club he has served so well for so long.

Paul Scholes is one of the greatest players not only of his generation, but to ever pull on a Manchester United shirt. However, due to his quiet, media-shy and grounded personality, he may not be given the credit he deserves in years to come. However, those inside the game appreciate and admire his skill on the pitch and his humility off it and by them; he will always be remembered as a class act. In this way, Scholes can be described as a footballer’s footballer. Perhaps Premiership legend Thierry Henry summed it up best: “I can’t understand why Scholes has never won the Player of the Year award. Maybe it’s because he doesn’t seek the limelight like some of the other ‘stars’.” Only when Scholes eventually hangs up his boots will we all realise just how much he has contributed to football and that we were all extremely fortunate to witness the career of one of the all-time greats as it unfolded.

Categories: Football
  1. rrr
    July 24, 2011 at 6:41 pm

    Thierry Hendry comment at the end of the article provide all the inspirations poeples need from Paul. Not only for football but the live also. It’s a way of live !

  2. Superiorraw
    September 19, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    Agreed. Absolutely spot on, he’s never sought out the media for attention. All his goals and range of passing show us he’s been a tremendous player for Manchester United. Not only has he been the complete professional in that regard, like Giggs he’s been loyal and stayed with us.

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