02 June, 2011

"Sat Nav" retires: Tribute to the "greatest midfielder of his generation:"

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Paul Scholes:  the Premier League's Number One midfielder
"One of my greatest regrets is that the chance never arose to play alongside Scholes," - Zinedine Zidane

I know that Paul Scholes retired from football two days ago; but any player labelled "the greatest midfielder of his generation" by no less a judge than Zinedine Zidane deserves a well researched article.  
He was the most decorated English player ever.  His prize list includes 10 Premier League Titles, three FA Cups, two League Cups, one Champions League, which would have been two were it not for earning a second yellow card in the 1999 semi-final and thereby being banned from the final.   'Scholes-ey' (as he was so wittingly nicknamed by his team-mates and manager) also won 66 caps for England, a tally which would surely have been doubled were it not for the love of his family and his desire to spend time with them during international weeks.  One of his great regrets was always that he didn't come out of (international) retirement to play at the 2010 World Cup, having been offered a place by Fabio Capello.
"Without any doubt the best player in the Premier League. Paul Scholes could do everything," - Thierry Henry

Thierry Henry, arguably the greatest foreigner ever to play in the Premier League described Scholes as: "Without any doubt the best player in the Premiership....He knows how to do everything."
United's greatest holds Scholes in highest esteem
The player called "Sat Nav" due to the accuracy of his passing had Rio Ferdinand lead the tributes to him stating:  "Paul would do ridiculous things in training like point at a tree that was 40 yards away and say 'I'm going to hit that.'  He would then hit the tree plum. Definitely the best player I ever played with."
Manchester United's (undoubted) greatest ever play, Sir Bobby Charlton stated: "Paul is always so in control and pin-point accurate with his passing — a beautiful player to watch."
TACKLING:   the one 'flaw' in Paul Scholes' game
Scholes was famed for not being able to tackle - the only 'flaw' in his game many said.  Attempts at tackles by the "Ginger Magician" usually led to flailing legs, a referee's whistle and the brandishing of a card raised in the air.  Probably the greatest disappointment of Scholes' career was when he missed the 1999 Champions League Final; due to being booked twice in the two legs of the semi-final against Juventus.  The two bookings were for two 'mis-timed' tackles; each tackle almost certainly saving a goal.
There are those who say that those bookings were due to Scholes' inability to tackle; but a more accurate assessment would probably be that Scholes' actions were those of a man who was selflessly keeping his side in the greatest club competition in the world.

A player who could do everything indeed.
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