Paul Scholes is one of the most gifted players to ever pull on an England shirt yet he retired from International football before he even reached 30. The reason? Scholes will say it is because he wanted to spend time with his family and that he wanted to prolong his club career, and I think that’s totally true, but he probably won’t mention the other reason. Sven Goran-Eriksson played Scholes out of position on the left to accommodate for two lesser players, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard. However, with 170 England caps between them, Lamps and Stevie and have never formed a successful partnership and England fans have missed out on years of watching Scholesy.
Sven, Steve McClaren and Fabio Capello have all begged him to come back, but he’s turned them down every time.
Ahead of this summer’s World Cup, Scholes was asked yet again to come back and play, yet again he turned them down. England endured yet another disappointing tournament, with Gerrard and Lampard again failing to click, and thankfully, Wayne Rooney was the only United player involved in the embarrassment of it all.
Scholes obviously hadn’t been involved in any of the qualifying games so revealed he didn’t feel as though he deserved a seat on the plane to South Africa because he would be taking the place of someone who had played their part.
However, after the World Cup, Scholes revealed that he wondered whether he had made a mistake in turning the opportunity down, but really, he should be confident he made the right decision.
Capello didn’t ask Scholes to play, it was his right-hand man Franco Baldini. They didn’t give him time to think it over, he was called up the day before the squad was announced and pressed for a decision. Let’s be honest here, Scholes was an after thought. He wasn’t fundamental to their plans, he was a bit of a gamble, worth a punt, but to them he wasn’t worth being treated properly.
“I had only been given a couple of hours, so it was a bit of a rush job,” Scholes revealed. “But the World Cup is the biggest tournament you can be involved in. I wish I had gone. I did feel as though I had made the wrong decision. There was a touch of regret, but it doesn’t matter now. It’s gone.”
And this is the story of Scholes’ career. He doesn’t demand attention or fuss, he just gets on with it.
“My ideal day? Train in the morning, pick up the kids from school, go home, play with kids, have tea, get them up to bed, and then come down to watch a bit of TV. I don’t get hassled. I can go anywhere I want to. Nobody stops me from going down to Tesco. I’m recognised, of course, and I get asked for my autograph but it is never a problem. I’ve never been conscious of losing out on big money because of the way I’ve wanted to live my life. I’ve turned down big commercials because I’m shy. It’s just the way I’ve been. I did get a boot contract once. But no, I haven’t earned much outside the game. Maybe it’s because I’m not good looking enough.”
So the England set up has repeatedly treated him in a shoddy way and United have obviously benefited from this, with him playing a total of 38 games for us last season, 35 the year before that, 34 the year before and 45 the year before that. It’s hard to imagine we would have kept him playing so regularly for so long had he still be jetting here, there and everyone for England games.
The guy is a legend and even now that he’s 35-year-old, he has the ability to control any game. Capello will have watched on cringing when Scholes totally dictated the Community Shield game between United and Chelsea, wondering why on earth he didn’t put more effort in to bringing Scholes back, why he didn’t show our midfield maestro the respect he deserves.
It would be a disaster is Scholes went back now though and I’m sure he won’t. The appeal of playing in the World Cup is a lot greater than playing in friendlies and Euro qualifiers. Scholes will be 37-years-old by the time the next tournament comes along so there really would be no point him getting involved now. All it would do is take away from his club career and open himself up to criticism. With all the hype around him at the moment, the first time he didn’t play well for England the fans would be booing him and the media would rip him to shreds.
He’s too good for that bunch of mugs. Had they showed him proper respect, playing him in position and asking him properly when they wanted him to return, you would understand Scholes being interested in playing again. As it is, he’s well rid.