In this week’s From The Archives, we look at another player from the now legendary Class of ’92 – Paul Scholes. Scholes is the most decorated English footballer of all-time and one of the all-time greats of the game.
Scholes made his professional debut on 21st September 1994 and scored both goals in a 2-1 win over Port Vale in the League Cup. Three days later, he scored a consolation goal in a 3-2 defeat in his league debut. The same season saw him score 2 goals in the comeback win over QPR. The 1995 FA Cup Final saw Scholes come on as a substitute and be denied twice by Neville Southall.
The following season saw the departure of Mark Hughes to Chelsea resulting in more first-team opportunities for the young midfielder. Scholes 1995-96 season was an individual and collective success as he scored 14 goals as United became the first English team to win the Double twice. The 97-98 season saw Roy Keane suffer a season-ending injury. This saw Scholes play in Central Midfield rather than behind the striker.
Scholes was a vital element of the Treble-winning squad. He scored twice in the FA Cup final over Newcastle. Scholes also played an important role in United’s successful Champions League campaign scoring an away goal at Inter Milan. Scholes was, however, unlucky to miss the final through suspension having picked up a yellow card in the second leg against Juventus.
The 1999-2000 season saw Scholes score what was the Best goal of his career. His volley from the edge of the box from a Beckham corner forced Dwight Yorke to duck. It was a sublime goal. Individually, Scholes went from strength to strength. The following week saw Scholes score his first hat-trick in a 7-1 mauling of West Ham.
The 2002-03 season saw Scholes score 20 goals in all competitions, a career high. He also scored a hat-trick against Newcastle. Scholes scored the winning goal in the semifinals against Arsenal, going on to lift the Cup. The following season saw United again reach the final of the Cup but Scholes had a penalty saved as United lost to the Gunners on penalties.
He 2005-06 season saw Scholes contend with blurred vision raising fears that his career could be over.
But Scholes returned and played in one of the best individual seasons in Premier League history. He was named in the team of the Year and nominated for the PFA Player of the Year accolade. The season also saw United win the first of three consecutive Premier Leagues having missed out for four seasons on the trot.
Scholes suffered ligament damage in the 2007-08 season and returned only in January 2008. But he quickly got back to this best and scored a Screamer in the second leg of the semi-finals of the Champions League against Barcelona.
Scholes was honored for his fantastic career with his induction into the English Football Hall of Fame in 2008.
The 2010-11 saw Scholes start in fine vein of form staring with a Man-of-the-Match performance against Chelsea in the Community Shield. He assisted on 2 goals in United’s season opener against Newcastle. He scored a trademark goal from the edge of the box against Fulham and won the Premier League Player of the Month awards for August 2010. United went to win the Premier League at the end of the season. Scholes however decided to retire and joined the Coaching staff.
Scholes however made a fairy tale return against Manchester City due to an injury crisis at Old Trafford. He made his comeback against Manchester City in the FA Cup. The next week saw him score on his first start since coming back against Bolton. Scholes extended for another season and won the Premier League once again after narrowly missing out the previous season. He then retired along with Sir Alex for a second and final time.
Scholes was highly regarded for his technical skills, renowned for his accurate passing, intelligent movement and powerful shooting from long range. A quick, well-rounded, tenacious, and versatile box-to-box player, he was capable of playing in any midfield position, often alternating between defensive, offensive, and playmaking roles, due to his stamina, vision, and work-rate, as well as his ability to make attacking runs. He had excellent capacity to read the game due to his tactical intelligence. Xavi said: “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.
When asked how I feels to be the best midfield on the planet, Zidane was right is saying – Ask Paul Scholes.