Saturday, December 24, 2011

Paul Scholes

Paul Scholes (born 16 November 1974) is a retired English footballer, a one-club man who played his entire professional career for Manchester United.

Born in Salford, but later moving to Langley, Scholes excelled in both cricket and football in school. He first trained with Manchester United at the age of 14 after being spotted by a scout at his school, and made his debut for United in the 1994–95 season. He went on to play a key part in Manchester United's Treble-winning season, winning ten Premier League, three FA Cup and two UEFA Champions League medals.

Scholes represented the England national team from 1997 to 2004, participating in the 1998 and 2002 World Cup, as well as UEFA Euro 2000 and UEFA Euro 2004. Scholes has amassed over 120 bookings in all competitions during his career and has been sent off ten times.

Scholes made 676 appearances for United, the 4th highest number of appearances by any player for the club. Scholes officially announced his retirement from playing duties on 31 May 2011 and began his coaching career at the club from the 2011–12 season onwards.

Early Years
Scholes was born at Hope Hospital in Salford, Greater Manchester, to parents Stewart and Marina Scholes. The family moved to Langley area of Middleton, Greater Manchester when he was 18 months old where he lived on Bowness Road, and later Talkin Drive. He attended the St Mary's RC Primary School in Langley. The first team he played for was Langley Furrows. Scholes also excelled at cricket. At age 14, he began training with Manchester United. He then later joined as a trainee upon leaving the Cardinal Langley Roman Catholic High School in Middleton during the summer of 1991. In his final term at school, he was selected to represent Great Britain National Schools in football.

Style of play
Thierry Henry said, "Without any doubt the best player in the Premiership has to be Scholes... He knows how to do everything." When asked about Scholes, Bobby Charlton stated, "Paul is always so in control and pin-point accurate with his passing — a beautiful player to watch", whilst Marcello Lippi remarked that Scholes is "an all-round midfielder who possesses quality and character in abundance." BBC football pundit and former Liverpool defender Alan Hansen has described Scholes as "one of the top three to five players to have ever played in the Premier League" and commented "his passing, movement and technique set examples to everyone."Manchester United team mate Nani commented "he’s the best midfielder I’ve ever seen. He can pass, score goals with his left, right, his head – he can do anything."

The one aspect of his game frequently criticised was his tackling, which was recognised as inept by pundits, fans and Scholes himself. In addition, the potential for malicious intent in some of his tackles has been raised; it has been suggested that he has escaped greater censure due to the admiration that pundits have for him. However, Scholes said in an interview after his retirement that the tackles were to get back at players who had fouled him earlier in the game and the infamy surrounding his tackles led to him often being unnecessarily booked.

In February 2011, Barcelona midfielder Xavi rated Scholes as the best player in his position in the past two decades, stating "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. 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.". This sentiment was echoed by FC Barcelona manager, Josep Guardiola, who considered Scholes to be the best midfielder of his generation.

Personal life
Scholes is an asthmatic and suffered from Osgood–Schlatter disease, a knee condition that affects young athletes. He married his childhood sweetheart, Claire (née Froggatt), in Wrexham in February 1999, and they live in Saddleworth with their three children, Arron, Alicia and Aiden, who is autistic. As of August 2011, Arron Scholes plays for the Stalybridge Celtic under-12s football team.

Scholes' personality off the field has been described as "shy"  and his lifestyle is seen to be in stark contrast to the lifestyles of the stereotypical professional footballer. In a rare interview before Euro 2004, Scholes described his ideal day as "train in the morning, pick up my children from school, play with them, have tea, put them to bed and then watch a bit of TV."

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