Paul Aaron Scholes (born 16 November 1974) is an English football player who has spent his whole career at Manchester United. Scholes has been called the best midfielder of his generation,[1] and has been praised many times for his modesty and attitude towards the game.[2]  

Paul has three children, Aaron, Alicia and Aiden. He lives in Saddleworth, Oldham with wife Claire - mother to his children.

Paul represented the England national team for a period of seven years, having been handed his début in 1997. He went on to represent his country at four major tournaments; the 1998 and 2002 World Cups and the 2000 and 2004 European Championships. Following Euro 2004, Scholes announced his retirement from international football, citing his intentions to focus on his club career with Manchester United and spend more time with his family. Scholes went to Cardinal Langley Roman Catholic High School in Middleton Manchester. At his final Period of School he was selected to represent Great Britain National Schools in Football. Paul suffers from asthma.

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He is considered by Rio Ferdinand and Sir Alex Ferguson to be Man Utd's best player, and some time ago by former Netherland star Edgar Davids, to be the best midfielder in the world.[3]

On the BBC website Italian Coach Marcello Lippi stated that Paul Scholes was his favourite player. Lippi went on to say "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,". "He would have been one of the first players I'd have bought, given the chance".

In the same article former team-mate Laurent Blanc stated "I tell anyone who asks me - Scholes is the best English player."

Club career

Born in Salford, Lancashire, England, Scholes was brought up an Oldham Athletic supporter, but has trained with Manchester United since the age of 14[4]. He then later joined as a trainee upon leaving the Cardinal Langley Roman Catholic High School, Middleton, Greater Manchester in the summer of 1991. Contrary to popular belief, he was not a member of Manchester United's 1992 FA Youth Cup-winning squad, but he was part of the youth team that reached the final in the following season. Scholes turned professional on 23 July 1993, but did not make his breakthrough into the Old Trafford team until the 1994–95 season, when he made 17 league appearances and scored five goals. His debut for the senior squad came on 21 September 1994, where he scored twice in a 3-2 victory over Port Vale in the League Cup. The 20-year-old Scholes proved himself to be a promising understudy for the likes of Eric Cantona and Andrew Cole and by 1996-97, Scholes reinvented himself somewhat from a striker to that of a midfielder and forward attacker, renowned for his slick passing and sharp mind in the game. However, this confusion about Scholes' natural positioning meant he was unable to secure a regular first team place until the 1997–98 season, when he played officially in midfield after the ninth game when Roy Keane was ruled out by injury.

Paul Scholes - Manchester United Football Club

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Paul Scholes playing for Manchester United F.C.

In 1998–99, Paul was a key player in Manchester United's Premiership title, FA Cup, and UEFA Champions League "Treble" success. He scored one of United's two goals against Newcastle in the FA Cup final. He also scored a vital away goal at the San Siro against Inter Milan in the quarter-final of the Champions League, but was ruled out of the final victory over Bayern Munich through suspension.

Established player

Since then, Scholes has established himself as a world class midfield playmaker at the club level and for country. He became a key player in the Manchester United squad. Scholes generally played as a central attacking midfielder during his longstanding midfield partnership with Roy Keane, where Keane would drop deep and Paul would push forward in a diamond formation. However since the departure of Keane he has shifted into a more conventional central midfielder, but still playing a more attacking role than defensive.

One of the well known features of Paul's game is his high level of passing. Typical Manchester United moves over the last decade have involved Scholes receiving the ball from the holding midfielder, Roy Keane or Michael Carrick and then spreading a diagonal ball to the player on either flanks, mostly Gary Neville, David Beckham, Ryan Giggs or Cristiano Ronaldo.

Paul's shooting has also been hailed by the fans and media alike. His goal-scoring record has diminished in recent seasons and it's highly unlikely he'll regain the goal scoring form he had during the 2002-03 season when he netted 20 goals in all competitions, including a hat-trick away to Newcastle and a 25 yard screamer off the underside of the bar against Everton.

In 14 years as a first team player at Manchester United, Paul Scholes has won eight Premiership titles, three FA Cups, two UEFA Champions League titles, and the Intercontinental Cup, amongst many other personal achievements. As of April 30 2008, he has scored 139 goals for Manchester United in his club career. No other Englishman has scored more goals in the Champions League than Paul Scholes.

Unlike other modern footballers, Scholes does not have an agent and negotiates deals on his own behalf. He rarely gives interviews or accepts advertising contracts.

In an article in the observer www.guardian.co.uk David Beckham revealed that it is Paul Scholes who is the most admired player in their dressing room, consisting of the likes of Zidane, Raul, Ronaldo, Figo and roberto Carlos. Zinedine Zidane stated that he felt scholes was undoubtably the best midfielder of his generation.

In the same article micah Richards stated Scholes was his favourite player of all time. '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?'

Personal information
Full name Paul Aaron Scholes
Date of birth 16 November 1974 (1974-11-16)
Place of birth    Salford, Greater Manchester, England
Height 5 ft 7 in (1.70 m)
Playing position Midfielder
Club information
Current club Manchester United
Number 18
Youth career
1991–1994 Manchester United
Senior career1
Years Club App (Gls)*
1994– Manchester United 408 (97)   
National team
1997–2004 England 066 (14)
1 Senior club appearances and goals
counted for the domestic league only and
correct as of 11:04, 3 March 2009 (UTC).
* Appearances (Goals)

Later Days

Scholes' retirement from England helped revive his club form in 2005. However, he was ruled out for the second half of the 2005–06 season with blurred vision. The cause of this was initially uncertain, at first leaving Scholes' career in the balance.[5] He overcame this problem through the beginning of the year and he appeared in United's final game of the 2005–06 season, against Charlton Athletic. Reportedly, Scholes' vision has not completely recovered.[6]

On 22 October 2006, in the 2-0 Premiership victory over Liverpool at Old Trafford, twelve years after marking his Red Devils début with a League Cup brace against Port Vale, Scholes became the ninth United player to reach the 500th appearance landmark, following the likes of Sir Bobby Charlton, Bill Foulkes, Denis Irwin and current team-mates Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville. Scholes was voted Man of the Match and gave a rare interview after the game.

Inspired goal scoring form during late 2006 and early 2007 saw players from rival Premiership teams tip Scholes to be named Footballer of the Year. Thierry Henry and Cesc Fabregas of Arsenal F.C., and Luis Garcia of Liverpool F.C., all said he was the player that they most admired. Many commentators have said that Scholes was their personal player of the year, over the high scoring Cristiano Ronaldo and Didier Drogba, although he eventually finished third behind these two, with Ronaldo claiming the top prize. He also made it into the PFA Team of the year alongside 7 of his fellow team-mates. In one edition of Match Of The Day Lee Dixon claimed that Paul Scholes was the best footballer in the Premiership.

Paul was dismissed by referee Martin Atkinson, during Manchester United's 1-0 victory over Liverpool F.C. at Anfield on 3 March 2007, for swinging an arm at Xabi Alonso. It marked the first time he has been sent off in the league since Manchester United lost 1-0 against Liverpool's city rivals, Everton FC in April 2005. He missed the next three domestic games. The loss of Scholes was described by Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson as "a disappointment" [7] On 13 May 2007, Scholes won his 7th Premiership title with Man Utd.

Scholes scored his first goal of the 2007/08 campaign in United's second game of the season away to Portsmouth. On 23 August 2007, Scholes was shortlisted for a place in the National Football Museum Hall of Fame 2007. Viewers of BBC's Football Focus on 1 September 2007, however, ultimately voted for Arsenal legend Dennis Bergkamp.

In his autobiography, Sir Bobby Charlton says that he believes that Scholes is the one player still playing who truly epitomises the spirit of Manchester United and what is great about football.

Paul Scholes was ruled out of action until the end of January 2008, after scan results showed he had suffered knee ligament damage. He sustained the injury after turning awkwardly in training the night before United's Champions League Group F clash with Dynamo Kiev on Tuesday 23 October 2007. Scholes made his long awaited return coming on as a substitute in United's 3-1 win against Tottenham Hotspur in the fourth round of the FA Cup. After a slow start following his return from injury, Scholes has several strong displays and earned Man of the Match performances against Liverpool and Aston Villa.

On 23 April 2008, Paul Scholes completed his 100th UEFA Champions League appearance in a semi-final, 1st leg 0-0 draw at the Camp Nou versus Barcelona. In the 2nd leg, on 23 April, Scholes scored the only goal in a 1-0 victory in the 14th minute, giving United a place in the 2008 UEFA Champions League Final. Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson stated immediately that Scholes would start the final of the 2008 UEFA Champions League Final against Chelsea F.C., which United won on penalties after a 1-1 draw in normal time. Scholes himself received a blood injury, and yellow card, early on after a clash with Claude Makelele, but returned to play a significant part in the match until his substitution for Ryan Giggs in the 87th minute. By winning the trophy, Scholes finally exorcised the demons of missing the 1999 Final through suspension.

International career

Scholes made his international début against South Africa in 1997 in a 2-1 friendly win at Old Trafford, and was included in the England squad for the 1998 World Cup. England were grouped with Columbia, Tunisia and Romania. During England's first World Cup group match against Tunisia, Scholes sealed a 2-0 victory with a goal late in the game. Picking up a pass from Paul Ince just outside the Tunisian area, Scholes pushed the ball slightly to his right and hit a shot with his right foot which curled into the top right-hand corner of Tunisian keeper El Ouaer's net.

His international career continued after England's World Cup 98 elimination by Argentina on penalties in the first knock-out round. Scholes managed a hat-trick for England in a game against Poland. In addition, Scholes scored both goals in England's 2-0 win at Hampden Park over Scotland in the Euro 2000 Play-off first leg, sealing a 2-1 aggregate win and qualification for Euro 2000. When he was sent off against Sweden at Wembley Stadium in 1999, he became the first English player to ever be dismissed on home soil. Given that the stadium has now been demolished he will, therefore, forever be the only England player to have received a red card in England's 223 matches at the old stadium.[8]

With the turn of the century, Scholes became a prominent player in England's midfield. He started for England in the 2002 World Cup, wearing the number 8 jersey. However, after the World Cup, Scholes saw his opportunities in the national team decline due to Sven Goran Eriksson playing him out of position, following his goal scoring drought for England, to accommodate the pairing of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard in midfield. Scholes announced his retirement from international football in August 2004, citing his family life and his club career with Manchester United as being more important. He has three times turned down the opportunity to come out of retirement and reclaim his position in the England squad under former manager Steve McClaren and current boss Fabio Capello.

Honours

 Team honours with Manchester United

    • Premier League
  • Winner (8): 1996, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2007, 2008
  • Runner-up (2): 1998, 2006
  • FA Cup
  • Winner (3): 1996, 1999, 2004
  • Runner-up (3): 1995, 2005, 2007
  • FA Youth Cup
  • Runner's Up: 1993
  • Football League Cup
  • Winner (1): 2006
  • Runner Up (1): 2003,
  • FA Community Shield
  • Winner (5): 1994, 1996, 1997, 2003, 2007
  • Runner Up (5): 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2004
  • UEFA Champions League
  • Winner (2): 1999, 2008
  • UEFA Super Cup
  • Runner-up (1): 1999
  • Intercontinental Cup
  • Winner (1): 1999

Individual

  • Barclays Premiership Player of the Month: January 2003, December 2003, October 2006
  • PFA Premiership Team of the Year: 2002-03, 2006-07

References and Notes

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