So the news we all expected but hoped would never happen has come and Paul Scholes has retired from playing football. I found myself reading the breaking news on twitter this morning and felt tears down my face. I’m actually welling up as I write this now.
The first time I saw Scholes play I was enthralled, every touch of the ball was an orchestrated pass of genius and I wanted to play football like him. I have not had a successful playing career and once my dreams were over I turned into coaching. I have always said Scholes was my inspiration to coach, to see someone still love the game well into their 30’s for me was just amazing.
Everything you need to know about the player is in the way his retirement was announced, he left for a family holiday and then manutd.com announce the news. He always shunned the spotlight, rarely did interviews and really let his football do the talking.
Of course his tackling was never really spot on *ahem* and there have been many games when I saw him go in for a tackle and I hid behind my hands and shouted at him “Be careful”. It seems weird to say I’ll miss those mistimed tackles but more importantly I’ll miss seeing our Ginger Ninja running about our midfield like he’s still in his 20’s.
My favourite goal of his came at Old Trafford in 2008 against Barcelona when he scored the winning goal to take us to Moscow for the final against Chelsea. I still get goosebumps each time I watch it.
You got goosebumps didn’t you and maybe a few tears? I know I did.
Paul Scholes is probably best summed up by those who knew him or had played with him, here are some quotes that sum up the player that he was and how he is admired by so many;
– Rio Ferdinand via his twitter @rioferdy5
“To me Paul is a role model. He is the best midfielder I’ve seen in the last 15 or 20 years.”
“No celebrity bullshit, no self promotion – an amazingly gifted player who remained an unaffected human being.”
– Roy Keane
“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 Ferguson era – and in so many ways Scholes is my favourite.”
– Sir Bobby Charlton
“My toughest opponent? Scholes of Manchester. He is the complete midfielder.”
– Zinedine Zidane
“When he passes the ball it stays passed. The ball goes exactly where he wants it to. I have always loved him for that. I played against him once or twice and he is an absolute genius. He is a role model for anyone who wants to play football. He is a joy to watch. In fact, I wish he was 21, then I could see his career all over again.”
– Ian Holloway
“When it’s over I just want to be able to look in the mirror and say, ‘Well, you were a half-decent player”
– Paul Scholes
Paul. You were so much more. Never forgotten and thank you for being an inspiration to me and so many others.