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Paul Scholes

scholes.jpg

Paul Scholes

Scholes was born in Salford and grew up as an Oldham Athletic supporter, but has trained with Manchester United since the age of 14. He then later joined as a trainee upon leaving the Cardinal Langley Roman Catholic High School, Middleton, Greater Manchester in the summer of 1991.

Contrary to popular belief, he was not a member of Manchester United's 1992 FA Youth Cup-winning squad, but he was part of the youth team that reached the final in the following season. Scholes turned professional on 23 July 1993, but did not make his breakthrough into the Old Trafford team until the 1994–95 season, when he made 17 league appearances and scored five goals. His debut for the senior squad came on 21 September 1994, where he scored twice in a 3-2 victory over Port Vale in the League Cup. The 20-year-old Scholes proved himself to be a promising understudy for the likes of Eric Cantona (who was banned for eight months after 25 January for assaulting a spectator against Crystal Palace) and Andy Cole (who was cup-tied for United's FA Cup games). Scholes came on as a substitute in the FA Cup final against Everton, and came close to scoring on two occasions late in the game, but Everton goalkeeper Neville Southall foiled his shots and United lost the game 1-0.

In 1995-96, after fellow striker Mark Hughes moved to Chelsea, Scholes had even more first-team opportunities. He stood in for the suspended Eric Cantona as Andrew Cole's strike-partner for the first two months of the campaign, and even after Cantona's comeback there were still plenty of first team opportunities for Scholes, who scored 14 goals in all competitions as United became the first English team to win The double twice.

Scholes picked up another league title medal in 1996-97, but was restricted to just 16 league games 3 goals.

Scholes reinvented himself somewhat from a striker to that of a midfielder and forward attacker, featuring in midfield during the 1997-98 after Roy Keane suffered a knee injury in late September and did not play again that season. United finished the season without a major trophy, only the second time in the 1990s that this happened.

In 1998–99, Scholes was a key player in Manchester United's Premiership title, FA Cup, and UEFA Champions League "Treble" success. He scored one of United's two goals against Newcastle in the FA Cup final. He also scored a vital away goal at the San Siro against Inter Milan in the quarter-final of the Champions League, but was ruled out of the final victory over Bayern Munich through suspension.

Established player

During the 2002–03 season, Scholes netted 20 goals in all competitions, including a hat-trick away to Newcastle United and a 25 yard strike off the underside of the bar against Everton.

In 14 years as a first team player at Manchester United, Scholes has won eight Premiership titles, three FA Cups, two UEFA Champions League titles, and an Intercontinental Cup, amongst many other personal achievements. As of 30 April 2008, he has scored 139 goals for Manchester United in his club career.

Unlike other modern footballers, Scholes does not have an agent and negotiates deals on his own behalf. He rarely gives interviews or accepts advertising contracts.

David Beckham said that, among his teammates at Real Madrid, which included Zinedine Zidane, Raúl, Ronaldo, Luís Figo and Roberto Carlos, Scholes was the most admired opponent, while Micah Richards called Scholes his "favourite player of all time".

Duncan Drasdo, head of the Manchester United Supporters' Trust, said, "As much as we love Cristiano Ronaldo, you don't get the same kind of connection as you do with Paul Scholes."

Recent years

Since retiring from international football, Scholes has been able to concentrate on his club career. However, he was ruled out for the second half of the 2005–06 season with blurred vision. The cause of this was initially uncertain, sparking fears that it could end his career.He overcame this problem through the beginning of the year and he appeared in United's final game of the 2005–06 season, against Charlton Athletic. Reportedly, Scholes' vision has not completely recovered.

On 22 October 2006, in the 2-0 Premiership victory over Liverpool at Old Trafford, twelve years after marking his Red Devils début with a League Cup brace against Port Vale, Scholes became the ninth United player to reach the 500th appearance landmark, following the likes of Sir Bobby Charlton, Bill Foulkes, Denis Irwin and current team-mates Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville. Scholes was voted Man of the Match and gave a rare interview after the game.

Inspired goalscoring form during late 2006 and early 2007 saw players from rival Premiership teams tip Scholes to be named Footballer of the Year. Thierry Henry and Cesc Fàbregas of Arsenal, and Luis García of Liverpool, all said he was the player that they most admired. Many commentators have said that Scholes was their personal player of the year, over the high scoring Cristiano Ronaldo and Didier Drogba, although he eventually finished third behind these two, with Ronaldo claiming the top prize. He also made it into the PFA Team of the year alongside 7 of his fellow team-mates. In one edition of Match Of The Day Lee Dixon claimed that Scholes was the best footballer in the Premiership.

Scholes was dismissed by referee Martin Atkinson, during Manchester United's 1-0 victory over Liverpool F.C. at Anfield on 3 March 2007, for swinging an arm at Xabi Alonso. It marked the first time he has been sent off in the league since Manchester United lost 1-0 to Everton FC in April 2005. He missed the next three domestic games. The loss of Scholes was described by Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson as "a disappointment."  A month later he was sent off in the first leg of United's Champions League quarter final at A.S. Roma. On 13 May 2007, four seasons after Manchester United's last league championship, Scholes won his 7th Premiership title.

Scholes scored his first goal of the 2007-08 campaign in United's second game of the season away to Portsmouth. Following the 0-0 draw against Reading at Old Trafford, this was Manchester United's first goal of their extremely successful 2007-2008 season, ending in the European Double, consisting of the FA Premier League and the UEFA Champions League. On 23 August 2007, Scholes was shortlisted for a place in the National Football Museum Hall of Fame 2007. Viewers of BBC's Football Focus on 1 September 2007, however, ultimately voted for Arsenal legend Dennis Bergkamp.

In his autobiography, Sir Bobby Charlton wrote that he believed that Scholes was the one player still playing who truly epitomised the spirit of Manchester United and what is great about football.[citation needed]

Scholes was ruled out of action until the end of January 2008, after scan results showed he had suffered knee ligament damage. He sustained the injury after turning awkwardly in training the night before United's Champions League Group F clash with Dynamo Kiev on Tuesday 23 October 2007. Scholes made his long awaited return coming on as a substitute in United's 3-1 win against Tottenham Hotspur in the fourth round of the FA Cup, in which he had a notable "first pass".After a slow start following his return from injury, Scholes earned Man of the Match performances against Liverpool and Aston Villa.

On 23 April 2008, Scholes completed his 100th UEFA Champions League appearance in a semi-final, 1st leg 0-0 draw at the Camp Nou versus Barcelona. In the 2nd leg, on 23 April, Scholes scored the only goal in a 1-0 victory in the 14th minute, giving United a place in the 2008 UEFA Champions League Final. Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson stated immediately that Scholes would start the final of the 2008 UEFA Champions League Final against Chelsea, which United won on penalties after a 1-1 draw in normal time. Scholes himself received a blood injury, and yellow card, early on after a clash with Claude Makélélé, but returned to play a significant part in the match until his substitution by Ryan Giggs in the 87th minute. Scholes is also the only midfielder to score two hat-tricks, one against Newcastle United F.C. and one against West Ham United, in the history of the Premier League.[citation needed]

Scholes was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in September 2008, alongside former club and international teammate David Beckham.