For Manchester United fans, the name of “Paul Scholes” must be quite familiar. He is not too big, blond, and has always been known as a deadly thunder kick. He is an alumnus of the Manchester United academy known as the Class of 92’s, same as Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville, Phil Neville, and also Nicky Butt.
When he was young, he used to be an attacking midfielder and even a second striker in a 4-4-1-1 formation. Scholes, who was born on November 16, 1974, made his debut in 1994. After two champions league trophies, ten Premier League titles, seventeen years later, he declared his retirement at the end of the 2010/11 season at his age of 37 years.
After that, United gave a special award and farewell to Scholes’ decision. In August 2011, over 74,000 spectators packed the Old Trafford Stadium for Scholes’ farewell match with United, which he defended for 17 seasons, against the New York Cosmos. This Salford-born player is indeed special because he is a United academy educated and has only defended United throughout his career.
After retiring, he was immediately employed by Manchester United. He was appointed as an assistant coach of the Manchester United reserve team. At that time, he coached and trained young players, including Jesse Lingard and Paul Pogba.
In September 2011, while sharing his knowledge with young players, he also began to absorb the full training session like other reserve squad members. His physique slowly became fit, he even rediscovered his passion for playing.
Because he felt it was still possible to play, Scholes then had the idea to go back to playing. Although it sounded crazy, he boldly asked permission from Mike Phelan, Sir Alex Ferguson’s assistant at that time to strengthen the first team. As a result, Mike Phelan welcomed him warmly. He immediately called the club director to prepare a new contract.
The news of the return of Scholes from retirement was already known by Sir Alex Ferguson.
Right in the match against Manchester City, Scholes surprised many people by his return. It was Ferguson who made it look like a surprise. The legendary trainer deliberately registered the Scholes name secretly.
At that time, Fergie who had been told by Phelan about Scholes’ return immediately invited to meet him at the Lowry Hotel. At the meeting on Saturday, Fergie confirmed that Scholes would play against City on Sunday.
Scholes’s return to the first team was certainly not without any reason. At that time, the main squad was having results and players crisis. Rows of midfield injured. Darren Fletcher was absent until the end of the season. Tom Cleverley was pulled over until February. Darron Gibson was not fully fit. Having Anderson was also too risky because he was recovering from a knee injury.
Fergie himself had “forced” several players to play different roles, but failed. The situation was getting worse during the busy Christmas period and new year. United was successively defeated by Blackburn Rovers 2-3 and Newcastle United 0-3.
In the match against Manchester City, Scholes replaced Luis Nani on minutes 59th when United were 3-0 up. At that time, Manchester City played with only ten people after Vincent Kompany got a red card in the 12th minute. However, Scholes who became the headlines made a mistake instead. His weak pass was snatched by Sergio Agero to score.
But luckily, the final score was 3-2 for Manchester United’s victory.
During the match, there was another unique story. Scholes forgot to prepare his shoes and had to buy them right before the match.
Usually, Scholes wears Nike shoes to play. But this 170 cm player was confused because his contract with the shoe brand from the united states has expired after he retired.
That even made him had to buy his shoes. Finally a few hours before the match, he bought cheap Nike shoes at the nearest sports shop.
“I had to choose shoes so I went to the local sports shop to buy a cheap pair of shoes for 50 pounds (about 650 thousand rupiahs). I have no sponsors. We can’t tell Nike because it would be strange to find out that I was back playing,” said Scholes. (quoted from Sportbible)
In the remainder of the 2011/12 Premier League season, Scholes was recorded playing 21 times with 17 of them were in the league. He then continued his comeback period by playing for one more season with the Red Devils. Scholes finally decided to retire in May 2013, with a total playing record of 718 matches.