Paul Scholes calls it quits

In an era where Premier League footballers became staples of the tabloid gossip columns and took to Twitter to vent their thoughts, Paul Scholes was the quiet man of English football.

Updated: May 31, 2011 17:13 IST
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London: In an era where Premier League footballers became staples of the tabloid gossip columns and took to Twitter to vent their thoughts, Paul Scholes was the quiet man of English football.

Not for him the celebrity lifestyle of his former Manchester United teammate David Beckham.

Instead Scholes became arguably an even more influential player than Beckham and perhaps the best England midfielder of his generation.

Born in nearby Salford, it didn't take long for Scholes to make his way to Old Trafford where he became a key member of United manager Sir Alex Ferguson's trophy-winning sides.

That a mutual respect blossomed was understandable for Scholes, a talented player who gave of his best while not causing any off-field problems, was a footballer after Ferguson's own heart.

Blessed with an eye for a pass and indeed a goal - Scholes scored the winner in United's 2008 Champions League semi final win over Barcelona - just about his only weakness on the field was an inability to tackle.

United fans would wince when, on the rare occasions he lost possession, Scholes tried to atone by going straight in with a challenge.

As the years passed, so did Scholes' powers of recovery decline and there was something rather sadly inevitable about the way he was sent-off during United's recent FA Cup semi final defeat by local rivals Mancheste City at Wembley following a late challenge.

If Scholes was something of a throwback away from football, he was in the vanguard of a trend when announcing his retirement from England duty at the early age of 29 after Euro 2004.

Scholes, like many of his England contemporaries, never shone quite as brightly for their country as they did for their respective clubs and he quit the international game in frustration at Sven-Goran Eriksson's decision to move him from his preferred central midfield role.

Both of Eriksson's successors, Steve McClaren and Fabio Capello, tried to entice Scholes back into the England fold but Italian manager Capello was criticised for not making more of an effort to get the United hero on board in time for last year's disappointing World Cup campaign in South Africa.

Scholes subsequently conceded he might have done more to respond to England's overtures.

In the latter stages of his career, injuries became an increasing problem for Scholes, notably an alarming eye problem in December 2005 that left him with blurred vision.

Scholes had indicated a desire to retire last season only for Ferguson to persuade him to stay on for one more campaign, the midfielder's 18th season.

While Gary Neville called it quits before the end of this term, allowing the full-back to enjoy a star-studded testimonial match in the run-up to United's Champions League final defeat by Barcelona, Scholes soldiered on.

He then announced his retirement with a short statement that allowed him to end his playing days with a typical lack of fuss.

Factfile on Paul Scholes:

Paul Scholes

Birthdate: November 16, 1974

Birthplace: Salford, near Manchester, England

Position: Midfielder

1991: Signs as a trainee with Manchester United.

1922: Member of the 'Class of 92' that wins FA Youth Cup.

1993: Signs professional forms with United.

1994: Makes Premier League debut against Ipswich.

1995-96: Scores 10 goals in 26 league appearances as United win the Premier League and FA Cup double.

1997: Makes England debut as a substitute against South Africa at Old Trafford.

1997: Scores opening goal in World Cup qualifier as England beat Moldova 4-0.

1998: Scores second goal as England beat Tunisia 2-0 in their World Cup opener in France.

1999: Scores hat-trick in England's 3-1 win against Poland in Euro 2000 qualifier at Wembley.

1999: United complete treble of Premier League, FA Cup and European Cup but Scholes suspended from Champions League final win over Bayern Munich.

1999: Sent off in 0-0 draw against Sweden in Euro 2000 qualifier at Wembley.

2002: Member of England squad that reaches World Cup quarter-finals.

2002-03: Scores a career-best 14 league goals in a season as United win their eighth Premier League title.

2004: After England's Euro 2004 exit announces international retirement.

2008: Helps United win Champions League final in Moscow where they beat English rivals Chelsea in a penalty shoot-out.

2009: Wins another Premier League title but on losing side as United beaten 2-0 by Barcelona in Champions League final in Rome.

2010: Rejects approach from England manager Fabio Capello to return to international football ahead of the World Cup.

2011: Sent-off at Wembley as United lose 1-0 to Manchester City in FA Cup semi-final.

2011: Helps United win record 19th English title.

2011: Member of the side beaten 3-1 by Barcelona in Champions League final at Wembley and, three days later, on May 31, announces retirement from football.

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