It’s been six years since the Ginger Prince, also known to mortals as Paul Scholes, last put on an England shirt. Since then, Manchester United’s number 18, has won three more Premier League titles, a Champions League title, two League Cups and a Club World Cup. Not bad considering the midfielder is now 35.
The midfielder’s distance from the international setup notwithstanding, his club achievements perhaps earned him the phone call from Fabio Capello. Seeing as Jamie Carragher was allowed to worm his way back into the international team, it wouldn’t have been surprising to see Capello take to a steed and personally deliver the invitation, waxen seal and all, to Paul Scholes for his consideration.
Had Scholes, who scored fourteen goals in 66 games for England, accepted his invitation, however, the whole process would’ve created more than a whiff of desperation about the England camp. For as good as Paul Scholes is, he is nevertheless entering his twilight years and it would’ve been a damning indictment of England’s youth setup, having ostensibly failed to produce a decent backup option for a pair of fairly average international midfielders in Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard. As it is, we can count on the jack-of-all-trades-but-master-of-none James Milner.
And yet it was all so close to coming to be: “If they’d asked me earlier I probably would have accepted,” admitted Scholes.
He was undoubtedly tempted by the prospect of working with Fabio Capello, which player wouldn’t be? But his magnanimous nature, unlike Carragher, compelled him to decline the generous overtures of the Italian:
“There are players in the squad who have spent nearly two years flying all around the world helping England qualify for the World Cup, whereas I haven’t been involved for a long time.
“It wasn’t a case of wanting to go on holiday, it was the fact that I got the call so close to the tournament, and also I didn’t want to take the place of someone who helped get England to South Africa.”
That was probably for the best. And, in fairness to Carragher, England are alarmingly short of quality right-backs at the moment.
It would’ve been a fantastic spectacle to see Scholes take to the field in an England jersey again but, in the continuously evolving realm of football, sometimes you just have to move on. Reigniting the retrospective is something best enacted in memory rather than the reality of the pitch.
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