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Manchester United FC manager Sir Alex Ferguson has praised Paul Scholes for his age-defying displays as the veteran midfielder prepares to make his 100th appearance in the UEFA Champions League against AS Roma.

'Absolutely fantastic'
Scholes, who will become the ninth player to reach this landmark, underlined his continued importance to United when setting up Cristiano Ronaldo's opening goal in the 2-0 first-leg victory at Roma last week with a perfectly-placed cross. His gradual return to form in 2008 following his recovery from a knee ligament injury has been like having a "new player" according to Sir Alex. "It did take him a few weeks to get his rhythm back and now he has got his rhythm back and he has been absolutely fantastic," the Scot said of the 33-year-old.

Debut in 1994
Scholes made his debut in the competition in a 2-2 home draw with FC Barcelona in October 1994 and has registered 99 appearances in the intervening 14 years, scoring 20 goals. However, he missed United's 1999 final triumph over FC Bayern München because of suspension. He will follow his team-mate Ryan Giggs and former Old Trafford colleague David Beckham into the UEFA Champions League's 100 club, along with Raúl González (who leads the way with 116 outings), Roberto Carlos, Paolo Maldini, Oliver Kahn, Clarence Seedorf and Luís Figo.

'One of the best'
The former England midfielder's efforts were hailed by United legend Sir Bobby Charlton, who described him as "still one of the best passers of the ball in the game". Sir Bobby added: "He's so professional and so good, Paul Scholes, that when he gets the ball, I get a real satisfaction. I say, 'this'll not be wasted', and sure enough, the number of times he picks the ball up, the direction of his passing, the quality of his passing, the way that he can find time on the ball – it's an instinctive thing and it's such a pleasure to watch. I love watching Paul Scholes, he's an absolute credit."


All hail the ginger prince! May he bring doom to the Romans!
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