Sir Alex Ferguson retired. Fittingly, his longtime arch-minion Paul Scholes will retire, for good, alongside him. Scholes was a fixture of Ferguson’s second-wave of youngsters in the early 1990s, which also produced Ryan Giggs, David Beckham and Gary Neville. Playing his entire career at United, he won 11 league titles, five domestic cups and two Champions Leagues. Not a bad haul.
Scholes was the most cultured English footballer of his generation, perhaps any generation. With phenomenal, intelligence and technical skill, he was one of that rare caliber of players who functions long after the legs leave, because he’s just that brilliant. Scholes was, in essence, a Catalan’s Englishman. Xavi, yes that Xavi, called him “the best central midfielder I’ve seen.”
If that wasn’t enough, Scholes played with asthma, played through Osgood-Schlatter disease as a teenager and played six and a half seasons at the club after suffering permanent vision damage during the 2005/06 season.
Scholes was truly great, and like almost anyone truly great, he had one pernicious flaw: Whether it was design, blind rage or just poor timing, he was a terrible tackler. Arsene Wenger termed this facet of his game his “darker side.”