Stalybridge Celtic were treated to a surprise this week when they turned up to training and found that Paul Scholes was waiting for them.
The 38-year-old agreed to temporarily take charge of the team where his son Aaron plays after they were left without a manager following the departure of Jim Harvey by mutual consent, on the grounds that it remained a secret until it was over.
Louis Smith, a 17-year-old centre back from Stalybridge who is a big United fan, admitted it was an experience he never thought he would ever have.
“It was unreal,” he said.
“He’s a childhood idol so it was a great experience.
“The first we knew was when we turned up for training on Monday morning and there he was. It was a shock and a surprise at the same time.
“There’s no-one better to learn from. You learnt so much from him, even in just a week. To get an insight and help from someone like him is invaluable – you can’t put a price on that.
“And for him to come down and do it for free was a great gesture of goodwill.”
It is a real testament to the character that Scholes is. He never wanted the spotlight on himself and simply wanted to help the team succeed and was willing to dedicate himself solely to his family and football, something he is still doing now. That approach is something that endeared Scholes to United fans and still does. Even in his retirement, he is a shining example of how a professional should act.
Scholes has been back at United helping Nicky Butt in United’s UEFA Under-19s Youth League and it is hoped that he will return to United as a coach. Judging by his involvement with Stalybridge and United’s Under-19s, that could well happen sooner rather than later.