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Paul Scholes: Time for a Legend to Bid Farewell

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1.06K   //    23 Jul 2011, 20:55 IST

Come August 5 and Manchester United and the world of football will say goodbye to a legend named Paul Scholes. United will sorely miss the services of a man who has made a total 676 appearances for them and it will indeed be very difficult for someone to fill the void that will be left by the legendary midfielder. The 5 ft 7 in footballer nicknamed “Ginger Ninja” has spent his entire career at Manchester United, thus being one amongst the elite group of one club footballers. He has seen and won it all with the Red Devils, a prominent figure who was loved deeply by Manchester United fans and adored immensely by followers of the game.

Paul Scholes made his debut for Manchester United in the 1994-95 season and turned out to be an influential figure in United’s resurgence in the 1990s.  His lucid and pin-point passing left both opposition players and spectators bamboozled as he terrorized English opponents by patrolling the United midfield.  His rise to the top was meteoric and considering the number of years that he has spent at the top level of football, which has been evident in the key roles he played in Manchester United’s 1999 treble winning season, the Double of 2008 and the 19th title of last season, his stay at the top has been legendary.  In the Alex Ferguson era, Scholes has been there at all the great moments, being a vital part in making all of them possible.

Moments such as Paul Scholes' 2008 semi final strike against Barcelona will forever be etched in the minds of football fans

Manchester United and Scholes : A career long love affair

17 years of uncomplaining service has been provided by Scholes to his club during which he made 676 appearances, 552 times he has featured in the starting squad and 124 times as a substitute. He has also scored 150 goals for United in all competitions, a high scoring rate considering the fact that he played much of his career in midfield.

Ever the player who refuses to complain and gets on with the job provided, Scholes’ strength throughout his career has been his versatility.  This was evident when he was asked to play as a striker in the  1995-96 season as a replace to Eric Cantona who was suspended then.  Scholes didn’t complain with the change of position, adapted brilliantly and scored 14 goals, a tally which was the second highest for the club that season.   It is this quality which has made him a true winner throughout his career.

He is a 10 time Premier League Champion, holds 3 FA Cup and 2 Champions League medals.  An essential part of the 1999 season in midfield with captain Roy Keane, Scholes scored a goal in final of FA Cup against Newcastle United but unfortunately missed out the historic Champions League final against Bayern Munich due to a suspension picked up against Juventus in the semis. He was shattered by the misfortune, but ever the fighter, it was a valuable lesson for Scholes who believes today that the experience made him evolve into a incredibly grounded footballer who rarely got excited and carried away.  By the end of 1999, Scholes had established himself as a reliable, hard-working footballer who was a terrorizing threat to opposition teams.

Testing times for United followed 1999 as Arsenal and Chelsea emerged as title contenders as Scholes was left battling problems to his vision.  Constantly motivated for more success, he fought his demons and came back.  In 2008 came his redemption for the disappointment of 1999. It was the Champions League Semifinal second leg against Barcelona at Old Trafford and the moment is cherished even today by millions of United fans throughout.  When Paul Scholes scored a scorcher from long range, he sent United into the final and thus booked his place in the starting line-up for Moscow purely on merit, thus making up for 1999.  The rest was history as Manchester United won the final against Chelsea and Scholes picked up his second Champions League winner’s medal.  That year saw him being inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame.

In April 2009, he made his 600th appearence for Manchester United as he featured heavily in the club’s domestic title win and the run to their second consecutive Champions League final.  After 2009 however, he saw his playing time reduced as injuries came up and age began to catch up with him.  But whenever given a go, Scholes continued to prove that he still had the world class skills in him which made him arguably the world’s best midfielder, most notably in the 2010-11 season when he led United’s charge in the early part of the season when the club desperately struggled for inspiration.

On 31st May 2011, he announced his retirement in the modest of manners, making an announcement which came out of the blue without much theatrics.  He will however join the coaching staff of Manchester United, thus inspiring young players to great careers and teaching them all the tricks in the book. Thus the Scholes-Manchester United love affair shall live on!

The famous no.18 jersey

The Dark side of Paul Scholes: His dubious achievements

Despite being a gifted passer of the ball, Paul Scholes had a dark side to his career and there are certain statistics he won’t be proud of. Scholes has picked 90 yellow and 4 red cards in his Premier League career making him the 3rd most booked player of all time in Premier league history. In the Champions League, he has been booked 32 times, which is an all time high. Most notably, it was due to his disciplinary issues that he didn’t feature  in the club’s memorable triumph over Bayern Munich in 1999 and he was also substituted in 2008 Champions league final against Chelsea after picking up a caution. He has often being criticized for his style of tackling. Rival club Arsenal’s manager Arsene Wenger famously remarked :

For me, he was not a fair player. There’s a little bit of a darker side in him, sometimes, that I did not like. I respect him highly as a quality player but I did not like some things he did on the football pitch

Scholes : A shy personality off the field 

His aggressive tackling and furious temper has often irked rival managers, but off the field Scholes is a shy and reserved person, nothing like the rash tackler that he is on the field. Scholes lives a happy married life and has three children.  He leads a simple life, which is in stark contrast to that of some of his fellow players like David Beckham. Before Euro 2004, when interviewed abouth his personal lifestyle he replied-

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.

It is highly fitting that he will be given farewell on against a New York Comos side that will be managed by his former teammate and United legend Eric Cantona and will feature Gary Neville and Nicky Butt. Manchester United meanwhile will field the young guns like David de Gea,Phil Jones and Ashley Young.  Scholes may have lacked the eye for theatricality in his life, but his farewell will be symbolic moment that he will see the legend passing on the baton to the new generation of players at United as he bids good bye to the game with his friends supporting and applauding him.  Manchester United will never forget his services, the world of football will sorely miss him and cherish his memorable moments.  There will always be only one Paul Scholes!

Edited by Zico

A Gooner who loves the beautiful game of football but also avidly follows other sports.
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