Sven-Goran Eriksson made the fatal decision of playing Paul Scholes out of position to accomodate Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, a midfield pairing that has failed to work ever since.
Scholes jacked in England following this, deciding to concentrate on his club career instead, which has certainly been beneficial to him, and Manchester United. The form he has managed to sustain, despite approaching his 34th birthday, is impressive. There aren’t many players who could score a goal like his against Barcelona, let alone with the pressure of it being in a European Cup semi-final.
With the England national team get more depressing every year, talk of bringing Paul Scholes resurfaces all the time. Whilst he was starting to be overlooked back in 2004, everyone, belatedly, recognises how lucky England were to have him.
Both Steve McClaren and Fabio Capello have wanted Scholes to return, however, the player has today revealed he stopped enjoying playing for England and there’s not a chance of him putting on an England shirt again.
“A couple of years ago I did think about coming out of international retirement,” said Scholes. “I spoke to Steve McClaren a couple of times about it when he became the new coach. I considered it quite strongly for a while. But in the end I came to the conclusion that I had made the right decision in the first place and I didn’t want to go back. When Steve was appointed he rang and asked me to return. Just the fact the England manager had rung and asked me to come back and play for my country meant a lot to me. He didn’t have to do that but he went out of his way to ring me and also came down to training and asked if I fancied it. I did think about it but I don’t really think I was ever that close that I would have said yes. It wasn’t about not thinking it was too much or I wasn’t capable it was just the fact that when I was playing I wasn’t enjoying it one little bit.”
So, despite his England career being over, Scholes reckons he’s got time at United until he’s 35-years-old, saying he’ll play for as long as he feels he’s good enough.
“I will carry on as long as I can. As long as I feel I am still contributing to United I want to carry on,” Scholes added. “When I eventually stop then I will think about what I want to do from then on. If I feel I can still be of worth I will carry on. If not I will go. I am sure the manager will say something as well! If he turns round to me and says I am not doing enough anymore then fair enough that will be it. It is part of life. I don’t worry about it. You get too old and you can’t do what you used to. You have to accept it. I am 34 in November and hope to still be playing at 35. Anything after that if I am still playing well and doing something for the team then it will be a bonus.”
Do you think Scholes could keep going past 35?
Made in Manchester is available for just £3. Some of the best football writers take a player each, from Sir Bobby Charlton to Ryan Giggs, George Best to David Beckham, Duncan Edwards to Paul Scholes, and many more, with 30 articles in total. All profit goes to Trafford Macmillan so please support this fantastic cause.