Paul Scholes is one of football’s greatest ever midfielders, and now after his retirement this is recognised greater than ever before.
Playing 777 matches, scoring 166 goals and winning 27 trophies with Manchester United, few midfielders can boast a career even nearly as good as Paul Scholes. When you consider that what made him such a special footballer was the impact he had on his team as a whole rather than just his stats and trophy count, the list of those who sit at his table becomes even smaller.
The average fan won’t recognise this impact so often, but the pros do, and amongst the game’s greats seems to be where Scholes is most revered. In a video produced by the MEN, their words on Scholes are showcased.
“The things he could do with the ball, he obviously wasn’t the quickest but he was so sharp you couldn’t get near him.”
“I remember knowing that at the back end of my career I’d be going back into midfield so I was almost studying him and watching him in training and games. It was brilliant for me, first hand, to watch him and learn.”
“He’ll do ridiculous things in training like say, ‘You see that tree over there?’ - It’ll be 40 yards away - ‘I’m going to hit it’. And he’ll do it, everyone at the club considers him the best.”
“He was a role model. For me – and I really mean this – he's the best central midfielder I've seen in the last 15, 20 years. I've spoken to Xabi Alonso about him.”
“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.”
“Out of everyone at Manchester United, I would pick out Scholes - he is the best midfielder of his generation. I would have loved to play alongside him.”
“Brian Kidd adored him. Sir Alex Ferguson said ‘If he doesn’t become a football player we can all pack it in’... and that was when he was eighteen.”
“I get to the end of my career and I say he’s the best player I ever played with.”
“I’m starstruck when I see Paul Scholes because you never see him. On the pitch you can’t catch him. Off the pitch he disappears.”
“The truly great English midfield player of the generation. Didn’t just play the game, he thought about the game. You could see every pass, every decision was based on his intelligence and understanding.”
“He’s always one of those people others talk about. Even playing at Real Madrid, the players always say to me ‘what’s he like?’ They respect him as a footballer and see him as the ultimate.”
“He is one of the top three to five players to have ever played in the Premier League - his passing, movement and technique set examples to everyone, not just younger players.”
“People say he is a great player, but you have to define what a great player is. For me, it is a player who has a bottom level that means his worst performance is not noticed. Scholes, of all the players I have played with, has the highest bottom level. His reading of the game is unsurpassed.”
Sir Bobby Charlton
“I have no hesitation in putting a name to the embodiment of all that I think is best about football. It’s Paul Scholes. 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 Alex Ferguson era. And in so many ways Scholes is my favourite.
“I love his nous and conviction that he will find a way to win, to make the killer pass or produce the decisive volley. When a game reaches a vital phase, these qualities seem to come out of his every pore. He’s always on the ball, always turning on goal.
“He’s always looking to bring other people into the action and if he loses possession you think he must be ill.”
“At La Masia, his name was mentioned a lot. He’s a teacher.”
“Scholes is the best I’ve played with and he helped me a lot when I was young. He’s amazing.”
“United always had many amazing players, but whenever we faced them we were always, always, always scared of what Paul Scholes could do. Ask anyone from that old Arsenal team, they will tell you the same.”
“If you let him play, he can kill you, and for me he was so underrated. The way he plays: one touch, arriving late into the box, the way he strikes the ball, his vision, his passing. Incredible.”
“For me, Paul Scholes has been the best midfield player in the Premier League. By a mile. He has the lot. He scores and created goals, he can pass the ball, he can head it, and rounds all this off with a competitive streak.”
“I want to pass like him. Who taught him how to do that?”
“He’s the phenomenon.”
“He’s almost untouchable in what he does. I never tire of watching him play. You rarely come across the complete footballer, but Scholes is as close to it as you can get.”
“One of my regrets is that the opportunity to play alongside him never presented itself during my career.”
"What does it feel like to be the best player in the world?," asked an interviewer.
The response? "I don’t know, ask Paul Scholes."
Sir Alex Ferguson
“He was the absolute perfect player and no matter how many great players we have had in the past at Manchester United, Paul sits in the great pantheon of those players, no question about that.”
“Paul Scholes deserves all the accolades he will get on his retirement, he is the most gifted English player of his generation and humble with it.”
All of these quotes just go to show how truly special a footballer Scholes was.
Some of the sport’s greatest ever minds such as Zinedine Zidane and Cristiano Ronaldo come together to appreciate just how technically, mentally and tactically far ahead of his competition he was, with a couple even complimenting him physically despite him not being the most imposing footballer.
It is amazing to see him get the recognition he deserves on such a wide scale, with the greatest of the greats all coming together to celebrate a player who was evidently cut from the same cloth as them.
Featured Image Credit: Alamy
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