Xavi Hernándexz, a truly outstanding player over the past decade, picked up second place at the FIFA Ballon d’Or tonight. Yet, the Spaniard’s award is little more than a reminder of the preeminent talent displayed on English shores for the past 20 years; a talent that has received no international recognition – Paul Scholes.
Like Xavi, Scholes could do anything with the ball. He still can; ageing legs there may be, but the brain still very much functions. It is Scholes’ ability to dictate the flow, tempo and quality of a match that is equalled by perhaps only half a
dozen players over the past 15 years. And, arguably, by nobody on these shores.
It is, of course, a grotesque crime that Scholes failed to pick up either domestic, European or global a global honours during an outstanding career. That the Salford-born midfielder has received not so much as a nomination is surely a reflection only of the player’s deliberate low-profile where advertising riches and the media circus are avoided religiously.
Indeed, during a career that began as an 18-year-old and may end this summer after more than 650 games, Scholes has impressed his peers – the élite of world football – far more than those in the media. That surely is a lasting honour.
Scholes, no doubt hampered in the search for global recognition by the failure of England’s national team over the past decade, didn’t even make the long-list for the European award in 1999, when David Beckham came second to Rivaldo.
Xavi’s fellow World Cup winning Spaniard, Xabi Alonso, today joined a long-list of pros lining up to praise Scholes. Too diffident to respond, Scholes may never collect an official prize but he will take a book of his peers’ praise into retirement.
“I’ve still got Paul Scholes’ shirt at home, which I swapped with him once,” said Real Madrid midfielder Alonso.
“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’.
“He certainly has the talent to have adapted to Spain – or Italy, or Germany, or France. Fans in Spain rate him very highly and I admire him a huge amount.”
It’s not a pretty thought for Manchester United supporters of course. Reds value Scholes’ loyalty and sacrifice to the cause almost on par with his quality. But there is no doubt Scholes would have shone in a technical league every bit as much as he has in England’s top division.
Indeed, the player’s clarity of thought, outstanding close control and awareness of space would surely have marked out the United midfielder as a star in any team, at any time in history.
In Xavi, who placed behind Lionel Messi in tonight’s ceremony, there is much of Scholes. And much to be admired. The home-town boy who learned his trade in Barcelona’s academy and has – to date – played for only one club. Six years younger, Xavi should have many profitable years ahead, although a persistent knee injury has limited the player’s time on the pitch in recent months.
But there is at Barça a genuine determination to do the right thing by Xavi, where the club has not always parted company with its legends on mutually amicable terms.
Of course whether the 30-year-old midfielder remains at the Catalan giants until his career ends is as yet unknown. The player’s loyalty and brilliance, much like Scholes, deserves the fate.
“I tell anyone who asks me – Scholes is the best English player.” – Laurent Blanc
“An amazingly gifted player who remained an unaffected human being.” – Roy Keane
“The best? Without any doubt it has to be Paul Scholes. He knows how to do everything, and he is the one who directs the way his team plays. On top of that, he has indestructible mental strength.” – Thierry Henry
“There isn’t a player of his mould anywhere else in the world.” – Glenn Hoddle
“If you ask footballers to pick out the player they most admire, so many of them will pick Paul Scholes. He’s the most consistent and naturally gifted player we’ve had for a long, long time.” – Alan Shearer
“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.” – Eidur Gudjohnsen
“Every one of us is just trying to become as good as him. Everyone can learn from Paul Scholes. I’m not the best, Paul
Scholes is.” – Edgar Davids
“He is the one whose level I aspire to. He is the best player in the Premier League.” – Cesc Fabregas
“The player in the Premiership I admire most? Easy – Scholes.” – Patrick Vieira
“I can’t understand why Scholes has never won the player of the year award. He should have won it long ago. Maybe it’s because he doesn’t seek the limelight like some of the other ‘stars’.” -Thierry Henry
“My toughest opponent? Scholes of Manchester. He is the complete midfielder. Undoubtedly the best midfielder of his generation.” – Zinedine Zidane
“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.” – Marcello Lippi
“I’m saddened because I think we as spectators, not only in this country but right through out Europe and the rest of the World, will be missing one hell of a footballer.” – Ray Wilkins
“Paul Scholes is my favourite player. He epitomises the spirit of Manchester United and everything that is good about football.” – Sir Bobby Charlton
“Without question, I think Paul Scholes is the best player in England. He’s got the best skills, the best brain. No one can match him.” – Sir Alex Ferguson
54 thoughts on “Scholes ante Xavi”
Nice collection of quotes put together. Well done. Scholes always will be a true United legend, without using that word frivolously.
one of the best ive seen. its amazing tha awareness one can have of his surroundings. the man is just a true LEGEND.
Agree: really nice piece and a wonderful collection of testimonies. Thanks.
Brings home just how sad I’ll be to see him leave this year or next :'(
best peice ever Ed – thanks a lot – made my day. brilliant.
Brilliant read! A glorious testimony so articulated.
He is in my own Jock words “One of a Kind”
he’s been brilliant most of the time since he came back from that eye injury in 06, I thought that next year after that would be his indian summer then hed fall away, he hasn’t, he’s been fucking great this year as well, fuck sake scholsey
“But there is no doubt Scholes would have shone in a technical league every bit as much as he has in England’s top division.”
I don’t think that’s true… obviously we’ll never know, but I think Scholes would have been a much “BETTER” player in any other league.
First of all, as good as he is with the ball… he can’t tackle for shit… but outside of England, that’s not nearly as important… plus… one of his greatest strengths was his ability to work under pressue… still make a good pass even when being pressed… still find space and make time, even when the game was very quick… but since he’s being used less and less, and often against weaker opposition, we see what he can do when he’s given more time and space.
In Italy, or Spain, where the game is slower and more deliberate… with more time and space to work with, and players ahead of him, who think more tactically than in England… he would have been phenominal.
Alfonso Bedoya says,I don’t think that’s true… obviously we’ll never know, but I think Scholes would have been a much “BETTER” player in any other league.Which league? Are you suggesting that SerieA and La Liga are better Leagues?
Can you not celebrate a great player without dreaming of him elswhere.
Some “United” Supporters just dont recognise a great player until they are in the past! SO sad.
Low profile super star, Paul Scholes!
Sorry Alfonso, the EPL is perhaps thee most difficult league period. Scholes’ ability to control the ball has been highly regarded by greats both in and out of the league. There isn’t a need to even consider his ability in a slower league. That’s like saying yea he can drive a race at 200 plus mph but can he drive it at 100?
Whilst the Premiership might not be the most technical league, there can be no doubt it is the most physical of the major leagues. Despite being 5ft 7 and 10st wet through Scholsey has not only survived, but dominated – Often out numbered by 3 man central midfields made up of big, physical destroyers the Ginger magician not only matches them physically, but completely outplays them with the ball….Outstanding.
What a shame the media only seem to recognise his talents at the end of his career, the clamour for a Gerrard/Lampard central midfield from fleet street in the early 2000’s was certainly a factor in pushing Scholes to the left of midfieldd for England and, ultimately into International retirement. Whilst United have benefitted hugely, I would have loved to see an England team with Scholsey allowed to dictate terms rather than basing the team around the huff and puff (but no guile) of certain others…Base the team aroung his superior talents, talents suited to the more patient nature of International football….
Even when he is offered a route back in Capello gave him an hour to decide….Read the quotes Fabio mate, he is worth more than an hour….Is it any wonder that England have won nowt since 66….Still United have won the lot so no harm done…
Finally, I remember hearing an interview with United player talking about the squad being full of stars circa 1999-2002. The interviewer asked about the 5 a side games in training and who won – Simple, “the team Scholsey plays for”
Great article – Zidane quote is the best and just says it all. The sight of him playing 40 yard fade passes to feet is something to behold.
well, who could argue with zidane’s assessment.
we were lucky to have these chaps with us, king eric and prince scholes
Scholes is a brilliant, brilliant player – but I suspect his early retirement from international duty is partly to blame for his relative lack of individual player honours. (He obviously has a cabinet full of trophies at club level.) Personally I am slightly surprised that Messi won the Ballon d’Or ahead of Xavi given how poor both he and Argentina were at the World Cup last summer.
Why so serious?
Is he dead or departed?
What,besides the player, i like is the man himself, no partying, no whores (see Rooney) no crap anywhere in his private life…a down to earth good lad.
Scholesky was one of the very few players dt made pple like us fell in love with football.I don’t think it is too late to honour this rare gem with greatest outstanding lifetime achievement award by fifa.
He is simply phenomenal
Wat an austanding player, still is one of the best playes around, a top professional, and a great example to young players out there.
Considering some of the clowns who have won individual awards, like Ginola in 1999 and Henry in 2003, when Scholes should have won at least one of those awards, just shows how idiotic the people who do the voting are. End of the day, what matters to him is the real people who know how good he is and that is all who is connected with United.
He scores Paul Scholes he scores goals! Yea, not many people have even noticed the fact that he has aged gracefully and he’s played at the highest level for a very long time. Viva Paul Scholes!
words cannot describe how much i love paul scholes. legend
True legend. My favorite player ever, England really missed/misses him. I dread the day I can no longer watch him play
Paul Scholes is the best of the best i dont think there is any midfield player who can ever play like him.
imo, the best United player ever…….Should have a statue up of him……
Definitely the best United player I’ve ever seen in the flesh
He’ll never be replaced, neither in terms of football or in his attitude toward life.
Nowadays a top player like him, who, in his prime could walk into any team would have a right cunt of an agent, and it would tarnish the player like it has Rooney
We’ll not find another, small, quick, fast-thinking, crafty, technically brilliant, skillful midfielder – certainly not English. I reckon it’s a part of the ‘United way’ that we’ll not see again for a long time
When the curtains falls I’ll miss his artistry, the best brain on the ball passing range, shorts and his down to earth nature. But will never miss his tackles.
It says a huge amount about the player that he is still so hugely influential on the pitch, irrespective of the dross he sometimes has to work alongside.
Those key attributes…passing, vision, intelligence don’t die as the player gets old.
I don’t think the true value of Paul Scholes will ever be truly appreciated outside of Manchester United (by opposition fans in this country) and we will be lucky to see an English player of his like again.
In his prime he was very good. Would not pick him in my all time favourite United team but then again most of you know this.
What exactly is the point of this article ED? He has not retired – unfortunately – and he is not dead. I do not like Xavi anyway and will not even compare them. I will take a younger Scholes over the Spaniard anyday. Scholes scored far more and would have been a striker if he was taller and quicker; that good is his finishing.
Now, he is an absolute liability. He should retire. NOW.
cal, you should retire spouting such extreme bollocks such as the above
i hazard a guess that if he was playing for Nigeria he would be in there like a shot
Best Article I have ever read on this site Ed. Well done.Scholes is as good as there ever was or will be. For those who don’t agree, they don’t know football.
Scholes is fantastic. Will be a great loss when he is gone.
I am an arsenal fan, i went to see united against wimbledon about 10-12years ago at selhurst park. in the warm up, scholesy smashed a shot at goal, it just went wide and hit me straoght in the face….thanks paul ;).
The biggest travesty was when he was shifted out left around 98 time to allow lampard to play, then ended up retiring and we had to deal with lampard TRYING to dictate play the scholes way.
Will be a great loss to the game, i for one will miss watching him play
Yeah Cal, do one
“He should retire. NOW.”
You’ve been saying that for 4 or 5 years ffs
“it just went wide and hit me straoght in the face….thanks paul”
So it didn’t bring you to your senses then.
scholes decrepid ginger penis is an iconic image in utd history
it was really small as well
Did Cal just post something about slagging off Scholes?
And what’s wrong with Xavi? Did he offend you with his brilliance?
Cal, you’re an idiot.
Cal has a point in that Scholes is past his best. Does not take away the fact that he is a fantastic player.
does anyone remember the fulham game last year or was it a couple of years ago? i think it was voted individual performance of the season. I just remember watching it and everything he did that night worked. long balls sprayed all over the field with complete accuracy, he was unstoppable, beautiful passing, movement and vision. I used to think scholes was a great player, but overated by thoose in the know, he does sometimes get a bit too casual at the back and his tackling is often poor but that game opened my eyes to how good this guy is. one of the top 5 ever on his day. no doubt.
He makes my world go round.
We need more statues outside OT and Scholes, Giggs and Cantona should stand beside SAF.
Yeah but it had a great first touch, and an unerring eye for goal.
I did not expect that from you Captn. I have not dissed him in anyway. A truly phenomenal footballer. I have said it in previous RANT guises that if Roy Keane had half Scholes’ talent this world would not contain our man from Cork! Still, I will not have him in my all-time United team. I will have Keane and Ince in centre midfield with Cantona behind the central striker. How hard is that to understand?
What a surprise.
He gave us some awesome memories.
Remember when he took a swing at Ballack?
If he’d connected, Ballack would still be travelling.
Reel your neck in Mate… that wasn’t an insult to Scholes… I was just suggesting that perhaps, had he played in one of the other leagues, he MIGHT have earned more recognition, as his talents would have stood out more.
The debate in England over the past 10/15 years about our best midfielders has been argued by Scouse, Chumpski and United fans… Gerrard, Lumpard and Scholes.
The Renties will point out Lumpards 20+ goals a season for umpteen years… The Verrrmin will point out Gerrards over all play and his leadership qualities… Scholes is a different type of player to both of these… his contribution isn’t as obvious, especially with statistics… and as you’ve seen, it’s only really United fans, his peers and managers, and generally those who know better that recognise what outstanding quality he brings to the game.
Notice how, with both Gerrard and Lumpard available to pick, Cappello still tried to coax Scholes out of retirement.
In the English game, Scholes doesn’t get the appreciation he deserves… that’s exactly what this article is pointing out… I’m suggesting that in Spain or Italy, his talent and style would have stood out more and therefore have been more recognised.
scholes…i luv u..
I have no word about his ability. He is the best of bests. Since when started football he is the most gifted player around the world. But it is so sadful that he has a very low profile carrier. And he is my best player. My idol. Anyone can teach from him. In this generation the world have many stars like xavi, kaka. But i think they r student of scholes. I just say he is the best midfielder in the world.he is the game.
Scholes=all playes+football without doubt.
i find it amusing when fans lament the fact that Scholes has never won an individual accolade at league, country, europe and world level when he has never even won Sir Matt Busby’s Award.