Paul Scholes: A Tribute to the Ginger Maestro

It is no coincidence that my 50th article of 2013 is on the Ginger Maestro. It is fitting that we revere and sendoff the great Paul Scholes in the grandest of styles. He may have retired before, but his comeback was even more phenomenal. After seven months out of the game, the pass King returned to help his old teammates when he felt they were short in a position he occupied and made his own for many years. One of the best players of his era deserves much more than laudatory remarks.

Despite his small frame, the majestic genius was so good he rarely ever put a foot wrong. How can you begin to acknowledge his contributions to the now rich Manchester United history. He picked up his 11th League winners medal on Sunday. The very same day that will represent his last ever as a a footballer at Old Trafford. He was injured for much of the year, but when he played from the start of the season, he was almost impeccable (bar his mistimed tackles).

The peak of his performance came in the 3-2 loss to Spurs at the Theatre last year where he attempted a mind boggling 144 passes only in the 2nd half. It was quite simply  astounding. The masterclass midfielder has dominated matches aplenty with his exceptional and unique skill and technique. Eyebrows were raised when he decided to clean up his old boots and get back on the pitch he sorely missed for the seven months he was out.

I, for one, was pissed that his last ever game as an esteemed professional would be that excruciating defeat to Barcelona in the UCL final at the new Wembley. Even though I was slightly excited by the way six players of the Blaugrana fought for his jersey, it wasn’t at all gratifying. It was relieving when he decided to give playing for Manchester United one final shot. I didn’t bother what the aftermath of his return would be.

All that mattered was that one of my all time favourite footballers was back. Not many can come out of retirement and still have a great impact on affairs. Paul Scholes was one of the select few. A  great master cannot suddenly become a student however long the hiatus could ever be. It was an effortless return to action in January 2011 and from then on, we were treated to some of the most scintillating performances ever seen.

He sparked the Manchester United revival that season and if not for some moments of madness, it would have ended in glory until Aguero broke our hearts on the last day of the season. He didn’t retire because he was aware that Manchester United don’t back down when the battle is at its fiercest.  True to the United spirit and drive that the equally supernatural Sir Alex Ferguson has instilled  in his team, the red army came roaring this term and no one could as much as muster a challenge when the march began and ended in victory.

The 13th Premier League and 20th English topflight crown was sealed in April and thus, it meant the grand old magician could have his swansong at Old Trafford entrenched in exaltation and splendor. Rio Ferdinand made sure the ginger Prince bowed out in style when he sent in an unstoppable cracker past the Swansea goalie in the 87th minute to gift our beloved Manchester United the win. It was written in the stars. A tad better than the sendoff two years prior and a much greater feeling of satisfaction and serenity.

When the World’s greatest ever footballer sings your praise, you know you are truly special. The exemplary and sometimes annoying Edson Arantes (PELE) was in awe of Paul Scholes. The Brazilian all time great was of the opinion that if the man affectionately called ‘SATNAV’ had been his teammate, he definitely would have scored more than the 1200+ goals he managed in his peerless career to date. Zinedine Zidane singled out Paul as the most difficult opponent he has ever faced. The former World and European Footballer of the year and the best player to come out of France. That says it all.

Other legitimate Legends like Thierry Henry, Luis Figo, Pep Guardiola, Xavi, etc have done their fair share of eulogies too. It is no mistake that Bobby Charlton calls the retiring great his favourite  footballer who epitomises the spirit of Manchester United and everything about Football. Another England great and a not too bad pass master, Glenn Hoddle extolled his sterling qualities, tagging him the jewel in the crown and unarguably one of the best footballers of his generation. Perhaps the finest of his age.

Paul Scholes is one of the very best of any generation. He could fit into any team in any era. His accumulation of cards was just one blip in a career worthy of praise and emulation. However, the man had self control and restraint when necessary. Despite receiving 97 yellow cards in the premier league, only on four occasions did he actually get sent off. His challenges were sometimes criminal, but largely thrown overboard and exaggerated by a large section of the media whose hate and envy of Manchester United increase on a daily basis.

It was Sven-Goran Eriksson (nicknamed Svennis) that denied England fans and the country itself the opportunity to see Scholesy in prime form. He retired at 29 because he was abandoned on the left wing in favour of Lampard and Gerrard who can never ever match his explosiveness and knack for finding the right man. Scholes is and will forever be incomparable on and off the pitch. Many attempts to get him back playing for the three lions hit a brick wall and rightly so. He was discarded like rotten potato..You can’t eat your fiesta and have it.

It isn’t just his on-the-pitch exploits that sets him apart. Scholes is one of the most humble and down to earth footballers of all time. Never one for the razzmatazz of the game nor for the celebrity lifestyle. A pure family person who drives home straight after training or any football match, avoiding interviews and what have you. You rarely come across a player with the complete package.

Here you have one of the world’s greatest ever players who prefers his football and family to fame and recognition and embraces glory rather than popularity. Despite all these, his excellent contributions to the game we love so much made him so famous and well loved. Take away his erratic rashness and uncompromising tackles and you have an almost spotless career filled with collective titles and personal accolades.

Hasta la vista the best decision-maker in world football. The man who could pass from Manchester to Massachusetts with consummate ease. We obviously would not mind a third foray. Although, John McEnroe’s famous rant to the Chair Umpire in his playing days must spring up…….’YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS’


Written by Ohireime Eboreime

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