France and Arsenal legend Thierry Henry described him as the best player in Premier League history.

Spanish playmaker Xavi called him the finest midfielder he’d seen in recent years and Socrates reckoned he was good enough to play for Brazil!

The player they praised so highly is, of course, Paul Scholes.

The Manchester United and England midfield maestro was one of the outstanding players of his generation.

He had unparalleled vision, superb passing ability and a fearsome shot – as well as a fiercely competitive spirit.

Scholes was a one-club professional. He made 718 appearances for United, the third highest number for any player at the club.

He scored 155 goals in a playing career lasting from 1993 to 2013. His record of 11 Premier League titles is greater than any other English player.

In addition, Scholes has won two Champions’ League titles, three FA Cups, two League Cups, five FA Community Shields, the Intercontinental Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup.

He played 66 times for England from 1997 to 2004, scoring 14 goals for his country. It could have been more as two England managers tried to talk him out of international retirement!

Scholes was born in Pendleton, Salford, and grew up in Langley. He attended St Mary’s Roman Catholic Primary School in Langley and Cardinal Langley RC High School in Middleton.

Although he excelled at cricket, football was his first passion – and he was selected for the Great Britain National Schools football team. He started training with United at the age of 14.

He turned professional in July 1993 and made his senior debut in September 1994 against Port Vale in the League Cup. Scholes scored both goals in a 2-1 victory.

His league debut came three days later when United played Ipswich at Portman Road. Scholes cored again in a 3-2 defeat.

Paul Scholes playing for England in the 6-1 win against Iceland at the City of Manchester Stadium, June 2004

Paul Scholes playing for England in the 6-1 win against Iceland at the City of Manchester Stadium, June 2004

Scholes played a major role in United’s treble-winning season of 1998-9 when the Premier League and Champions League titles – as well as the FA Cup – came back to Old Trafford.

He scored one of the two goals in the 2-0 FA Cup final win over Newcastle and an away goal against Inter Milan in the Champions League quarter-final.
Scholes achieved a career-best 20 goals in the league-winning 2002-3 season, including a hat trick in the 6-2 rout of Newcastle at St James’ Park.

He made his 100th Champions League appearance in April 2008 in the 0-0 semi-final away draw at Barcelona and scored the only goal in the 1-0 victory in the home leg.

He was injured in the final against Chelsea at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow and substituted in the 87th minute. He subsequently missed the penalty shoot-out which United won 6-5.

Scholes was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in September 2008 and made his 600th appearance for United in April 2009 in a 2-0 win over Portsmouth.

He retired from football in May 2011 and joined the coaching staff at Old Trafford. But the decision was quickly reversed when United suffered an injury crisis.
Scholes returned in January 2012 and signed a one-year extension until Summer 2013. He made his 700th appearance – and scored a goal – in the 4-0 home win over Wigan in September 2012.

Scholes is now a part owner of the football club Salford City, which he bought with former team-mates Gary and Phil Neville, Ryan Giggs and Nicky Butt.
He is also a straight-talking pundit for ITV and BT Sport.

Hat trick! Paul Scholes celebrates his third goal in United’s 6-2 victory over Newcastle at St James’ Park, April 2003

Hat trick! Paul Scholes celebrates his third goal in United’s 6-2 victory over Newcastle at St James’ Park, April 2003