It says everything about Paul Scholes that he has crept unnoticed into Manchester United’s all time goalscorers Top 10 with his dramatic injury time winner against Manchester City on Saturday. No fanfare, no fuss – aside from a startling kiss on the lips from Gary Neville, and certainly no pre planned celebration despite his milestone. A typical Scholesy understatement.
Scholes has made a career out of going unnoticed, but his absence will be noted when he has gone and is no longer around to make such crucial interventions as his 149th goal in a United shirt that revitalised the champions’ challenge for a fourth successive title.
At the age of 35, he has never come close to the Footballer of the Year award and has consistently gone without nomination for the Professional Footballers’ Association prize, but throughout Europe, the likes of Zinedine Zidane,
Edgar Davids, Thierry Henry and Andres Iniesta have spoken of their admiration of Scholes. “I’m not the best, Paul Scholes is. We can all learn so much from him” Davids said.
United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar claims that the former England midfielder has always been more celebrated on the continent than in the Premier League “A lot of players talk about Scholes in Holland, even Italy and elsewhere. His image isn’t that big, and of course he’s not into publicity and that side of things, but I know that, every year, the big players recognise his quality”
The big Dutchman continued “It’s because of his passing ability, his technique, his scoring ability. Even Xavi and Iniesta are talking about him. So many players have a lot of respect for him as a player and for what he has done for United during his career. He has been scoring goals for a long time and while he might not be a box to box player anymore, he still popped up in the 93rd minutes with a great goal.”
Scholes, plucked by United from the playing fields of Middleton – a mere four miles from Eastlands – as a teenager, resisted the urge to retire this summer by signing a one year contract at Old Trafford 24 hours before the trip to City. And despite his match-winning contribution, even City legend Francis Lee bowed to Scholes’s achievements following United’s 1-0 victory.
Lee said “Down the years there have been arguments about who has been the best United player since the days of Bobby Charlton, Denis Law and George Best, but in my mind there has never been any question, Scholesy has always been the man. He showed us that even at his age, he can still run the biggest of games. I love his football intelligence, the more I have watched him the more I have felt ‘This boy is Manchester United through and through”
Ferguson has produced many football legends in his near quarter century at Old Trafford and Scholes has been one of his greatest. Little wonder that together with Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville, he has become one of the new Holy Trinity.
Was Sir Alex wise to give Scholes a one year extension on his contract despite his age?