How do you give a proper tribute to a player with the quality of Paul Scholes on the occasion of his 700th game for Manchester United? Amazingly, many football fans seem to miss what makes Paul Scholes so special. Even England managers have failed to understand what he brings to a team. At 37 years of age even the worlds fastest and most imposing midfielders fail to keep him from running a game, it’s simply amazing.
Paul Scholes is a pass master that only a few players compare to, able to hit a ball the length of the field and land it on a dime. He’s the greatest passer I’ve ever seen, his trademark balls from the centre of the pitch onto the boot of a winger running full speed down the wing are a sight so common to his play you begin to think such a feat is effortless. Greats from Xavi to Zidane have called him the best midfielder they’ve ever played against.
Paul Scholes scores goals but what sets him apart from every other English midfielder of his generation is his ability to control a football game through his passing and movement. For me, though, his greatest attribute is his vision. When you can see the whole field from your seat at home, or in the stands, it’s easy to forget how different the view is for the players on the field.Paul Scholes play as if he has eyes in the stands, he could close his eyes and tell you where every single player is on the pitch at any moment of a game.
He is also a genius at create space for himself in midfield. He is constantly adjusting his position in relation to everyone else. He doesn’t just make space for a pass, he’s impossible to get the ball from because he has the speed of thought and play to react to the defense and take the space they offer. As soon as a defender goes one way Scholes has gone the other, the instant the defense gets tight the ball has moved on, and so has Scholes. The same understanding of the game and speed of thought that makes him so deadly in attack lets him hold his own in midfield though he’s no imposing physical specimen.
But he’s not only one of the great players in football history, he’s a person of rare quality. Scholes doesn’t have an agent and he never has. It’s unthinkable in this day and age where players can generate unprecedented levels of advertising revenue. Paul Scholes doesn’t stick around after the game so that he can talk to the media and get his picture in the paper, those are precious minutes he’d rather spend with his family. He once said his perfect day would be to “train in the morning, pick up my children from school, play with them, have tea, put them to bed and then watch a bit of TV.”
It might even sound cheesy but Paul Scholes is so inspiringly humble, so unassuming once he’s off the football pitch. Some have said his brilliance leads him to play football with a confident arrogance but no one would ever accuse Paul Scholes of being arrogant. His pious demeanor makes it seem rather appropriate that Manchester United supporters chose the religious hymn ‘Kumbaya’ for the tune of his song, he lives a life of devotion to football and to his family.
And with his remarkable endurance and skill who knows how many more years he’ll run the midfield for Mancheser United.