Somewhat unassuming off the pitch but an absolute giant on the pitch, Paul Scholes is revered as one of the best midfielders of his generation. He always delivered heroic performances for Manchester United yet had a seemingly muted impact for the Three Lions.
Scholes was given the freedom to roam at United. However, under former England manager Sven Goran Eriksson, he was relegated to the left flank – a position that arguably squandered the midfielder’s array of gifts. Despite this, Eriksson believes Paul Scholes was the “biggest talent” he’s ever coached (via The Daily Star).
The Red Devils icon amassed 66 appearances for the Three Lions. He would easily have doubled that figure had he not retired from international football in 2004. At just 29, Scholes might have only been reaching his peak. His retirement dealt England a titanic blow.
Many believe Scholes hanging up his England boots resulted from being banished to the left wing. Nearly two decades later, Eriksson admitted that Scholes was an immense talent.
England’s most talented player
In discussion with Betway, Eriksson heaped praise on United’s legendary midfielder, saying, “I think Paul Scholes was the most talented player I ever coached – he had everything.”
“You can pick so many immense players from my time.”
“Rooney, Beckham, Rio, Terry, Owen when he was at his peak. But Scholes was a playmaker, finisher, defending; he wasn’t the best in the world, but he could do it.
“He was a brilliant football player.”
While the Swede was at the helm, the Three Lions reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup twice – in 2002 and 2006.
Scholes may have ended his international career prematurely, but at the club level, he continued to shine for another eight years. Along the way, the midfield maestro made a total of 714 appearances, contributing 153 goals and 75 assists.
Football greats like Zinedine Zidane have also hailed the Red Devils legend’s prowess.
The French footballing magician once said:
“He’s almost untouchable in what he does. I never tire of watching him play. You rarely come across the complete footballer, but Scholes is as close to it as you can get.
“One of my regrets is that the opportunity to play alongside him never presented itself during my career.”
It’s difficult to judge, given his pleasant personality, but Scholes said he didn’t take issue with playing on the left wing for England.
In his 2011 biography, he wrote, “Playing on the left was never a problem.”
“I played on the left for United I don’t know how many times.”
“I probably had my most successful time scoring goals in that position, so it was never a problem.”
Would you have played Scholes on the left flank?