Washington, May 31, 2011 — It’s a sad day for soccer. Manchester United 36-year-old midfielder Paul Scholes announced his retirement on Tuesday. He will join United’s coaching staff.
Every team should have a player like Paul Scholes, an untiring bundle of energy in the middle of the field, with a never-say-die attitude, and a laser-beam shot on goal.
“What more can I say about Paul Scholes that I haven’t said before,” United manager Alex Ferguson said. “We are going to miss a truly unbelievable player…Paul has always been fully committed to this club and I am delighted he will be joining the coaching staff from next season. Paul has always been inspirational to players of all ages and we know that will continue in his new role.”
Scholes made 676 appearances for United since making his debut for the team in 1994. His last appearance for United was as a late substitute in Saturday’s 3-1 defeat to Barcelona in the Champions League final at Wembley.
Scholes didn’t have the personality of David Beckham, and wasn’t married to a pop-star wife. The quiet and shy lad did all his talking around the 18-yard box. The United star was a true professional on and off the field. He produced numerous memorable goals for the Red Devils and England.
“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,” said Scholes.
Scholes shunned the spotlight. Once the game on the pitch was over, the feisty player vanished into his private life. He didn’t turn up at movie premieres or famous night clubs, and he didn’t hobnob with the rich and famous. The only place you might see the red-headed star was watching his beloved Oldham Athletic with his son. He may have had the riches of the game and the big house, but he married his childhood sweetheart Claire and didn’t flaunt his wealth.
Scholes won 10 Premier League titles - and 24 trophies in total - with United, scoring 150 goals. He made 66 appearances for England, scoring 14 goals, before retiring from international soccer in 2004. With United - his only club - he also won three FA Cups and two UEFA Champions League medals.
Like his former teammate at United Nicky Butt, Scholes was an ordinary lad, blessed with talent and the riches that go with it. A modest player who didn’t crave adulation, a “throwback to a more innocent time,” noted one reporter.
Earlier in the month, Scholes helped United claim a record 19th English title and his tenth.
The very private Scholes was a complete team player who never let his teammates down. He had an intuitive understanding of the game and was self-disciplined up to a point: his tackling often let him down.
When he arrived from the youth team at Manchester, coach Alex Ferguson called him the best finisher in the game — the silent assassin.
“Paul Scholes had the best football brain I’d ever seen in a kid,” said former United assistant coach Brian Kidd. “Let’s face it. Paul Scholes is in a class of his own.”
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