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- Date of Birth:
- Nov 16, 1974
The first signs that Paul Scholes was destined for the big time were 17 years ago in 1992, when he was part of the now famous FA Youth Cup winning United team that included other future stars including David Beckham, Nicky Butt and the Neville brothers.
Sir Alex Ferguson, like his predecessor Sir Matt Busby, was keen on bringing through talent from within the club and Scholes was given his chance in the first team against Ipswich in 1994. United lost the game but Scholes scored two goals to give his manager a sign of things to come.
In the 1994/1995 season, Sir Alex's youth policy was in full flow and Scholes became a regular at Old Trafford, playing as a striker alongside Eric Cantona.
United relied on Scholes in the 1995/1996 season as Cantona's now infamous 'kung fu' kick had earned him a nine month ban. Scholes' performances in Cantona's absence earned him the nickname of 'Ginger Prince' to Cantona's 'King'.
His vision and eye for a pass meant he was quickly converted into a midfield player, but he still liked to get forward and regularly got himself onto the score sheet. His partnership with Roy Keane was a formidable one and his club form earned him a call up to the England squad in 1997, where he scored against Italy.
1999 remains his most successful year trophy wise. He played a major role in United's treble of Premier league, FA Cup and Champions League, putting in stellar performances throughout the season and scoring in the FA Cup final against Newcastle.
His consistently good performances finally earned him some individual recognition when in 2001 his United team mates voted him Player of the Year.
One of the turning points in his career was Euro 2004. Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard were proving to be problematic in the centre of midfield and Scholes was shunted out to the left side of midfield, a position he was unfamiliar with and unhappy playing in. At the end of the tournament he announced his retirement from international football to concentrate more on his family, despite pleas from Sven Goran Eriksson. He had won 66 caps and scored 14 goals.
The lack of international football seemed to have a positive effect on his club form. He scored 13 goals the following season and signed a new contract that ran to the Summer of 2009.
He was hit with an eye injury in 2005/2006 which ruled him out for the rest of the season and threatened to end his career. He overcame this problem however and made his comeback in the final game of the season against Charlton.
The 2006/2007 season saw the arrival of Michael Carrick in the United ranks. Many questioned whether he could fill Roy Keane's boots, but with Scholes alongside him he settled in perfectly and they formed a brilliant partnership in the centre of midfield, helping united to their first Premier League title in three years. It was the first of three consecutive league titles, with the Champions League squeezed in between in 2007/2008.
His best years at Old Trafford are certainly behind him, but he continues to be a key part of the United squad both on and off the pitch.
- Played (start/sub):
- 529 (440/89)
- Goals (hattricks):
- 104 (1)