Paul Scholes Announces His Retirement: End of an Era

Luke TaylorCorrespondent IIMay 31, 2011

The Greatest of His Generation?
The Greatest of His Generation?Phil Cole/Getty Images

Manchester United stalwart Paul Scholes today called time on a glorious playing career, announcing his retirement at the age of 36. He will continue to play a role at the club, as he joins United’s coaching staff.

The midfielder came through the ranks at Old Trafford as part of the “Class of '92” with Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville, David Beckham, Nicky Butt and Phil Neville, and made 676 appearances for the Red Devils since making his debut in 1994.

Scholes played his entire career for United, helping to lead his team to their record 19th league title in his final year at the club.

Announcing his retirement, he said, "This was not a decision I've taken lightly but I feel now is the right time for me to stop playing.

"I am not a man of many words but I can honestly say that playing football is all I have ever wanted to do and to have had such a long and successful career at Manchester United has been a real honour.

"To have been part of the team that helped the club reach that 19th title is a great privilege."

Scholes follows Gary Neville and Edwin van der Sar in announcing his retirement this season, with the latter also making his final appearance in Saturday’s Champions League Final defeat at the hands of Barcelona.

During the course of his incredible career, he scored 150 goals for his club and 14 goals in 66 appearances for his country before he surprisingly announced his international retirement in 2004.

However, this was a move typical of the midfielder, who was famous for his low-key demeanour and professional behaviour off the field.

Sir Alex Ferguson acknowledged his reputation as a model professional, calling him “inspirational to players of all ages,” and hailing him as “a truly unbelievable player.”

A number of players and United legends have already heaped praise upon Scholes, who won 17 trophies in his playing career, including 10 league titles.

His achievements also include two Champions League titles, and despite being suspended for 1999’s victory over Bayern Munich, he was Ferguson’s “first name on the team-sheet” when United defeated Chelsea in 2008.

Scholes, having begun his career as a goalscoring midfielder, refined his role in recent years to become one of the greatest playmakers in English football.

He was known for his trademark volleys, scoring a number of stunning strikes, most famously against Barcelona—the goal which secured United’s passage to the Champions League final.

His passing was second to none, and his vision and intelligence of a football field is arguably unrivalled. Even Zinedine Zidane named the midfield maestro as the greatest player of his generation. Only his tackling ability was ever questioned, and rightly so, as Scholes collected the fourth most yellow cards in Premier League history.

However, off the pitch, Scholes kept a low profile and has a reputation as a family man. He rarely spoke in interviews, preferring to shy away from the limelight and live his life untroubled by the British media.

Paul Scholes may have called time on an illustrious career today, but he will play one final match for Manchester United.

His testimonial match is being planned for August this year, and it will give the Old Trafford faithful one final chance to see Scholes play before he begins a new chapter in his Manchester United career as a coach.

Scholes is now one of the great United legends, and his retirement ends one of the most exceptional, and well-conducted, football careers of all time.