Paul Scholes

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Paul Scholes

Paul Scholes (born 16 November 1974) is an English football player who has spent his entire career at Manchester United.


  • When it's over I just want to be able to look in the mirror and say, 'Well, you were a half-decent player.'


    • A young Paul Scholes when asked about his career ambitions upon signing with United as a teenager
  • I don't like compliments. No. I prefer criticisms; prefer to prove them wrong
    • During an interview in the latter years of his career [2]

About Paul Scholes

  • One of the greatest football brains Manchester United has ever had.
  • No celebrity bullshit, no self promotion - an amazingly gifted player who remained an unaffected human being.[4]
  • “He's not the quickest, he doesn't run the most, he never wins a header, he can't tackle but he's the best player”. [5]
  • "I love watching little Paul Scholes, he’s so in control of what he’s doing and is always so accurate and pinpoint with his passing – it’s just beautiful to watch." [6]
    • Sir Bobby Charlton, Manchester United legend, current member of the board of directors at the club.
  • “What a player Paul is. Everything about him is just perfect.”[7]
  • "There isn't a player of his mould anywhere in the world." [8]
  • "Paul is football crazy. I've followed him since I took his first-year team all the way through. And while Paul is not very socially confident, give him a group of lads, a football and he's certainly not quiet." [9]
    • Mike Coffey, former scout for Manchester United
  • "For me, it's Paul Scholes. He'll do ridiculous things in training like say, "You see that tree over there?" - it'll be 40 yards away - "I'm going to hit it". And he'll do it. Everyone at the club considers him the best." [10]
    • Rio Ferdinand, Manchester United teammate when asked who he considers the best player at United
  • "England have lost their best player." [11]
    • George Best, speaking about Scholes' decision to retire from international football
  • "I tell anyone who asks me – Scholes is the best English player." [12]
    • Laurent Blanc, former teammate of Scholes and part of France's 1998 World Cup winning squad
  • "I think we were all disappointed because we all know what he can do. He's always in the right position, always seems to be at the end of the box when the ball drops in. The complete midfielder - when he's fit, he's the best. Some go missing but he's in the right place at the right time. He's my favourite player of all-time, unbelievable. If you give him a chance it's a goal, isn't it?" [13]
    • Micah Richards, Manchester City defender, speaking about Scholes' decision to stay retired prior to World Cup 2006.
  • "People say he is a great player, but you have to define what a great player is. For me, it is a player who has a bottom level that means his worst performance is not noticed. If he is having a bad game, a teammate might feel Paul Scholes is not quite on his game, but a spectator wouldn't notice. Scholes, of all the players I have played with, has the highest bottom level. He has an eye for a pass, for what the play or the game needs at that precise moment, that I have never seen anyone else have. These days he doesn't get into the box too many times, which is where you can see his age, but he has developed tactically. He controls and distributes the play and the game better than anyone I have ever seen." [14]
  • "He is not as good a tackler as you - but I really like him. He's a little boy, but the power in that shot... he can really shoot." [15]
  • "Everyone of us should emulate him. We can all learn from Paul Scholes." [16]
  • "My toughest opponent? Scholes of Manchester. He is the complete midfielder. Scholes is undoubtedly the greatest midfielder of his generation." [17]
    • Zinedine Zidane, World Cup winning France midfielder and three-time FIFA World Player of the Year
  • "Paul Scholes would have been one of my first choices for putting together a great team – that goes to show how highly I have always rated him. An all-round midfielder who possesses quality and character in abundance." [18]
    • Marcello Lippi, Italian manager who won five Serie A championships and the Champions League with Juventus, as well as the 2006 World Cup with Italy
  • "Without any doubt the best player in the Premiership has to be Scholes. He knows how to do everything, and he is one who directs the way his team plays. On top of that, he has indestructible mental strength and he is a genuine competitor." [19]
  • “What United have got that Chelsea haven’t is Paul Scholes. I think he is different to anything else in English football.”[22]
  • "I am a big admirer of Paul Scholes, he is one of the best players of his generation and I honestly think [Wesley] Sneijder is the only player in the world capable of replacing him." [23]
  • "I have no hesitation in putting a name to the embodiment of all that I think is best about football. It's Paul Scholes. 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 Alex Ferguson era. And in so many ways Scholes is my favourite. I love his nous and conviction that he will find a way to win, to make the killer pass or produce the decisive volley. When a game reaches a vital phase, these qualities seem to come out of his every pore. He's always on the ball, always turning on goal. He's always looking to bring other people into the action and if he loses possession you think he must be ill." [24]
  • "There is no doubt for me that Paul Scholes is still in a class of his own. 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." [25]
  • "“Why isn’t he playing for England? It is crazy. Only in England. Scholes is a great, great player. So experienced and still, for me, one of the best in the world in midfield. Manchester United are lucky to have him.” [26]
  • "I’ve still got Paul Scholes’ shirt at home which I swapped with him once. When I was at Liverpool he was one of the players I liked most. Maybe he’s not valued as much as he should be in England because of the style of football there and because he keeps a low profile. Perhaps he would have been more valued in Spain, where midfielders like him form part of the ‘ideal.’ Fans in Spain rate him very highly and I admire him a huge amount." [27]
  • "He’s the best midfielder I’ve ever seen. He can pass, score goals with his left, right, his head – he can do anything. And he can beat a player too, plus he loves to nutmeg you! He's unbelievable." [28]
    • Nani, commenting on Scholes return from injury
  • "“He did not get completely what he deserves as a player because he’s not a “media lion”. He’s not one who runs after the media to be in the papers. I respect that." [29]
  • "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." [30]
  • "I’d go for Scholesy as the club’s greatest ever player. I’ve seen him do things that no other player can do. The way he can control the tempo of games, and his range of passing, are both incredible. We’ve seen over the years that players just haven’t been able to get near him. And you can’t forget his goals either." [31]
  • "He is one of the top three to five players to have ever played in the Premier League - his passing, movement and technique set examples to everyone, not just younger players." [32]
  • "Paul Scholes is a role model. For me – and I really mean this – he's the best central midfielder I've seen in the last 15, 20 years. I've spoken to Xabi Alonso about him. He's spectacular, he has it all: the last pass, goals, he's strong, he doesn't lose the ball, vision. If he'd been Spanish he might have been rated more highly. Players love him." [33]
  • ""The one [role model] that stands out the most was Paul Scholes. I look up to him and was lucky enough a couple of games ago to play against United for Villa and I got his top. That's a big thing for me because in my eyes he's probably the best player in the world. Even now, even though he's old, he's still one of the best in the league." [34]
  • "“For any football player in the Premiership, Scholes is a player you want to emulate. One player does not make a team but there is no doubt that the presence of some players add extra motivation and confidence. Scholes is a player with character and is capable of transmitting that mental strength to his team-mates." [35]
  • “I just love Paul Scholes. He’s been the best footballer in our division for the last ten years. He’s a a wonderful player. If they get hold of him and stop him from playing I think Chelsea will beat them." [36]
  • “I’m star-struck when I see Paul Scholes because you never see him. On the pitch you can’t catch him. Off the pitch he disappears.” [37]
  • “At La Masia (Barcelona’s Academy) his name was mentioned a lot. He’s a teacher.” [38]
  • “If he was playing with me, I would score so many more.” [39]
  • “Out of everyone at Manchester United, I would pick out Scholes – he is the best midfielder of his generation. I would have loved to have played alongside him.” [40]
  • “I want to pass like him. Who taught him how to do that?” [41]
  • “Scholes is the best i’ve played with and he helped me a lot when I was young. He’s amazing.” [42]
  • “One of the greats in his position has retired. Was an honor playing with Paul Scholes.. RespectForALegend”[44]
  • “When you talk about the greats of Manchester United, he’s up there with Georgie Best, Bryan Robson, Ryan Giggs and Bobby Charlton just purely for the amount of medals that he’s won, he’s going to be greatly missed by Manchester United.” [45]
  • “Paul Scholes has been the best England midfield player for 30-odd years. You’d probably have to go back to Bobby Charlton to find someone who could do as much as Scholes. When the ball arrives at his feet he could tell you where every player on that pitch is at that moment. His awareness is superb.”[46]
  • “He’s always one of those people others talk about. Even playing at Real Madrid, the players always say to me ‘what’s he like’? They respect him as a footballer and see him as the ultimate.” [48]
  • “It’s a shame he’s not available to play for England. If he was, he’d be the first name in my squad.” [49]
  • “At Arsenal me and Patrick (Vieira) didn’t want to face Scholes. We would avoid him.” [50]
  • “I’m more an admirer of Paul Scholes than I am of Ronaldo. Ronaldo is a fantastic player, but he has 10 other great players around him every week…Scholes is one of the most complete footballers I’ve ever seen. His one-touch play is phenomenal. Whenever I have played against him, I never felt I could get close to him.” [51]
  • “Just heard Paul Scholes has retired, best I’ve ever played against by a mile. Most technically gifted player in english history. Legend” [52]
  • “Nobody else in the world can play the way Scholes does. The passes he produces all over the field and the way he changes the game is brilliant. Every manager would like him. But luckily he is here and playing with us. Paul practices that all the time. When he has finished training he always goes out and shoots.” [53]
  • "Nobody on this planet had a range of passing like Paul Scholes. Training every day was a pleasure just watching him. Unbelievable career." [55]
  • “The only great English midfielder in my career was Paul Scholes. He has elegance in him. Others were pretenders.”
    • Andrea Pirlo in his autobiography,'I Think, Therefore I Play'
  • “If you ask footballers to pick out the player they most admire, so many of them will pick Paul Scholes. His passing and shooting is of the highest level and he’s the most consistent and naturally gifted player we’ve had for a long, long time.” [56]
  • "United always had many amazing players, but whenever we faced them we were always, always, always scared of what Paul Scholes could do. Ask anyone from that old Arsenal team, they will tell you the same. If you let him play, he can kill you, and for me he was so underrated. The way he plays: one touch, arriving late into the box, the way he strikes the ball, his vision, his passing. Incredible. I know people used to give him some stick for his tackling, but I liked that. He put his foot in, showed some character, had a go, but I liked that about him too. For me he is one of the best midfielders I have ever seen." [57]
  • “Good enough to play for Brazil. I love to watch Scholes, to see him pass, the boy with the red hair and the red shirt.” [58]
  • “One of the best players I've ever seen in my life! Spectacular on training! Playing with him was a joy!.” [59]
  • "I think that there have been some outstanding players (in the Premier League era), especially some foreign players who have come in like Eric Cantona. Obviously he didn't quite have the same impact at Leeds as he did at Manchester United. Then there was Gianfranco Zola, Dennis Bergkamp... but there is only one player for me, and that's Paul Scholes".[60]
  • "The best illustration I can give of his talent is that at Manchester United there was always a possession drill in training designed to develop our passing ability, which might be three players against another three players, or six versus six, or nine versus nine. But no matter what the numbers were, the side with Paul Scholes on their team would always win by keeping the most possession." [61]
  • "I remember when I played against Paul Scholes, from Manchester. And because he is a midfielder, and I am a midfielder, sometimes we would have to confront each other. He is not tall, he is not strong but he is clever. This is very difficult. To play against someone who is clever. And he was fantastic with the ball, clever how he passed the ball, clever how he would see you. That was interesting to talk about afterwards." [62]
  • "They have two of the world’s best young players in Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney, but the player who most impresses me is Paul Scholes. He is United’s most important player, he makes most things happen on the field.” [63]
  • “The player in the Premiership I admire most? Easy – Scholes”[64]
  • "I'm more of an admirer of Paul Scholes than I am of Ronaldo. Scholes is one of the most complete footballers I've ever seen. His one-touch play is phenomenal. Whenever I have played against him I never felt I could get close to him."[65]
  • "Scholes was England’s best football player. It was impossible to take the ball from him, and he never mishit a pass. He did not belong on the left flank but that’s where we needed him most. He had played on the left in the qualifying campaign, and sometimes even at Manchester United."[66]
  • After picking Scholes as the best Premier League player ever - "I was asked to pick my best Premier League team and he (Scholes) was the first player I picked – I can’t compliment him any higher than that.”[67]
  • "Paul Scholes was always unbelievably talented. Quiet. And dirty. When he got his tackle right, it was a great tackle. But when he got it wrong, he could kill someone. He was so talented and a player I feel honoured to have played with."[68]
  • "Scholes was probably the best English midfielder since Bobby Charlton. Since I have been in England, Paul Gascoigne was the best of those who could lift you from your seat. In his last few years, Paul Scholes elevated himself above Gascoigne. One, for longevity, and two, for improving himelf in his thirties.
    He was such a brilliant long passer that he could choose a hair on the head of any team-mate answering the call of nature at our training ground. Gary Neville once thought he had found refuge in a bush, but Scholesy found him from 40 yards. He inflicted a similar long-range missile strike, once, on Peter Schmeichel, and was chased round the training ground for his impertinence. Scholesy would have made a first class-sniper."
  • "For me, Paul Scholes has been the best midfield player in the Premier League. By a mile. He has the lot. He scores and creates goals, he can pass the ball, he can head it, and rounds all this off with a competitive streak."[69]
  • [Upon Ryan Giggs taking over as manager and bringing Scholes in as a coach]"Paul Scholes is one of these guys who has few words but the few words are so succinct, accurate and to the point. He is brilliant at it. Many times I would bring in the older guard to discuss certain things that we maybe wanted their opinion on. Scholesy had three or four words – bang, bang, bang. He was such a revelation for me for a young man to be so positive, a decision maker. I think Ryan will get the benefit of that now. That was the first thing Ryan did; he phoned up Scholesy – he was on holiday and called him back."[70]
  • “I was too shy to ask him for advice so I watched him carefully and tried to dissect everything he did. Then I would try to emulate his strengths.”[71]
  • "Maybe one small regret is that I never got to play with Paul Scholes - but I was never going to leave Barcelona and he was never going to leave Manchester United."[72]
  • "Scholes was playing tiki-taka football when nobody in England knew what it was. He was another of those players, like Denis Law or Bobby Moore, who at 15 probably looked as if he wouldn't make it. Too small, you would think -- can't run, dumpy little ginger nut -- but then the ball would come to him and he would dazzle you. He was the best footballer in that Manchester United midfield, better than Ryan Giggs and Roy Keane."[73]
  • "For me, Paul Scholes is on the same level as Ronaldo. The real Ronaldo, not Cristiano. I always thought he was a great player but after I played alongside him I realised he was Manchester United’s greatest player of all time. He did his talking on the pitch which I respected most." [74]
  • "The truly great English midfield player of the generation. Didn’t just play the game, he thought about the game. You could see every pass, every decision, was based on his intelligence and understanding." [75]
  • "“During our active careers, we met a few times on the pitch. I always looked with admiration to his intelligent movement and powerful shooting from long range. Also, his technical skills and accurate passing were remarkable. He is a true legend.” [76]
  • When asked to name the best team-mate he has ever had: “Paul Scholes, The ginger fella."[77]
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