When Sir Alex Ferguson introduced his so-called “kids” to the football world in the 90′s, not many journalists, pundits and fans would have bet or believed legends would be born from that Manchester United team. Paul Scholes was one of those kids and he would not only become a legend, he’d become the midfield wizard of Old Trafford.
Scholes is one of the greatest players to have ever played for Manchester United and England, and is undoubtedly a huge contributor to world football having entertained fans for years. He is probably the only English player who could have ousted Xavi or Iniesta from the Barcelona midfield. In fact, when Scholes retired the first time around, Xavi had this to say about him. ”For me, and I really mean this, he’s the best central midfielder I’ve seen in the last 15, 20 years. He’s spectacular, he has it all, the last pass, goals, he’s strong, he doesn’t lose the ball, vision. If he’d been Spanish he might have been rated more highly. Players love him.”
Truer words were never spoken. Have you ever seen a more sophisticated passer of the ball? Have you ever seen a player with a long-range shot like Scholesy? His highlight reel is sublime. Despite the football talent, critics will point out his tough tackling and that at times he was a very dirty player. Scholes received 90 yellow cards and 4 red cards making him the 3rd most booked player in Premier League history. But the beauty certainly outweighed the beast in this football fairy tale.
Scholes played for Manchester United his entire career. He had 466 appearances and 102 goals from 1993-2011. He returned from retirement for the 2012-13 season and made a further 31 appearances and scored 5 goals. He leaves the game with 66 England caps, scoring 14 times for his country. He retired from international football way too soon and Fabio Capello failed in his attempt to bring him back for the 2010 World Cup. And how much did England need him in that tournament? But Scholes didn’t need England and in the end, he wanted to give what he had left to his one of his true loves, Manchester United.
Like Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs, Scholes has winners medals bursting from his trophy cabinet. 11 Premier League titles, 3 F.A. Cups, 2 Champions League, 2 League Cups, 5 Community Shields, 1 Intercontinental Cup and 1 World Club Championship. He has won it all and was also inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in 2008.
His biggest disappointment was probably missing out on the memorable 1999 Champions League Final against Bayern Munich at the Camp Nou. Because he didn’t play in that game due to suspension, he doesn’t consider the medal as something he earned. “Roy Keane and I both got medals but they didn’t mean anything to either of us because we hadn’t been a part of it. You have to play in the final to warrant a medal, that’s my opinion. It’s the biggest game of the whole competition and you have to be on the pitch or at least on the bench to earn a medal.” That’s a very different opinion and approach to John Terry, who was banned from the 2012 Champions League Final yet had no problem lifting the trophy after Chelsea’s victory. Paul Scholes certainly isn’t cut from the same cloth as John Terry. A blue collar lad who never felt entitled to anything and wanted to earn everything that came his way, Scholes was never a selfish player.
A lifelong fan of Oldham Athletic, Paul Scholes is the perfect role model for any kid who wants to play professional football. He always behaved like a gentlemen off the pitch and enjoyed a career that was scandal free. A very shy man, Scholes always put family and football first. Granted he wasn’t a marketer or sponsors dream like his colleagues Ryan Giggs or David Beckham, but none of that even mattered to someone like Scholes. He just wanted to play football.
Loyal. Professional. Clinical. Aggressive. Beautiful. Spellbinding. Class. Scholes will be missed not only by Red Devil fans but also by fans of the game. This season it looks like he’ll be retiring for good. And as effective as Michael Carrick has been for United in their acquisition of another title, the departure of Scholes will still leave a void in that midfield and at the club. You rarely see English players with his technical skills and ability. They don’t come along very often.
It’s certainly the end of an era at one of the world’s greatest clubs. It’s been fun watching this fiery red head play. He made his debut as one of those so-called kids, but he left the club a man with a great influence on many other kids coming through at Manchester United. Paul Scholes, you are a legend…
There are some moments in life when you feel exceptionally lucky. You want to freeze time in a bottle. You never want the moment to end. Talking to Brazil, Santos and New York Cosmos legend Carlos Alberto Torres was exactly that moment for me.
The 1970 World Cup Final goal he scored versus Italy is undoubtedly the greatest we’ve ever seen. It was a stunning team effort that showcased why we’ve all loved watching Brazil in the World Cup. The goal also solidified Carlos Alberto’s name in football’s history books and is a moment he admits changed his life forever.
A true gentlemen of the game, Carlos is proud to have returned to his beloved New York Cosmos as an Ambassador. Together with other legends of the game like his best friend Pele, Franz Beckenbauer and Giorgio Chinaglia, they set the Big Apple on fire, put the sport on the map in the United States and galvanized a nation to fall in love with football.
Talking to him about that historical final, the 1982 Brazil World Cup team, Pele, Maradona, Messi, Neymar and more felt like all the Christmas mornings I’ve ever had rolled-up into one. He unwrapped his thoughts and provided honest opinions like a gift that kept on giving.
I hope you enjoy listening to one of football’s legends as much as I enjoyed talking to him.
Football. Soccer. Call it what you want. It’s just like being down the pub with your mates.
Lob us @soccerdiva.
Ben and Sophie return to the Lounge to discuss where it all went wrong for Barcelona and Real Madrid in the Champions League this week.
Was Messi selfish to start? Who is helping Ronaldo? Is it time these teams looked beyond their individual icons in favour of collective choreography? Did Mourinho mess up? Why didn’t Tito react? Is a miracle comeback possible for either side? Just where do they go from here?
Let’s credit Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund for their beautiful performances. They certainly shocked Spanish football to its core and have started a debate about the rise of German football. Is it premature? Is everyone getting carried away with their claims that Spanish football is dead?
Sophie and Ben discuss it all in La Liga Lounge. And if you agree or disagree with any of their opinions, let them have it volley style @LaLigaLounge. It’s always happy hour here.
There’s no biting in football…unless you are Luis Suarez of course! Liverpool’s star player is in hot water once again and the biggest question is what will this legendary and historical club do with him?
Unless you’ve been living under a gigantic rock, Suarez took a healthy bite out of Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic during a game at Anfield over the weekend. It’s not the first time Suarez has done this to an opponent. In April 2011 while playing for Ajax, he sunk his teeth into PSV Eindhoven midfielder Otman Bakkal. He received a seven-match ban and it was the last time he ever played for Ajax, a club with as much rich football history as Liverpool. This is unacceptable behaviour from a player who doesn’t even need to act like Mike Tyson on the football pitch.
Suarez is undoubtedly one of the best players in Europe, let alone the Premier League. His continual bad decision making however leads you to believe he is definitely a couple of sandwiches short of a picnic. Where do Liverpool go from here? They will probably support him because without his thirty goals this season, they’d be languishing below mid-table and Brendan Rodgers would probably be standing in the football unemployment line.
In this week’s verbal memo you can also catch soundbites about Tottenham, Jose Mourinho and there’s even a mention about my chat with Brazil football legend Carlos Alberto. There will be more of that interview posted in the coming days.
Sit back. Relax. Rant. Rave. If you agree or disagree with anything you hear, lob me @soccerdiva and let me have it.
Thank you to Soteris Charalambous of the Cyprus Weekly for writing a lovely article about my life and career. You can read the article at the bottom of this post. It’s always a treat when someone takes interest in your story, especially at a time when the beautiful island of Cyprus is under financial siege.
My parents are from Cyprus. My brother lives there with his wife and children. My grandmother, aunts, uncles and cousins are spread across the island of love and every night I pray for a resolution to the economic disaster. Many of us have suffered from the global economic crisis over the last three years and life has certainly changed in ways we could never have imagined. People got greedy. The innocent have suffered and folks have forgotten about the small things as we’ve been bombarded by the pressures of society to want and need more when really we don’t need much.
Family, friends, film, love and football are the cherished things that have helped keep me going in a time when the future felt uncertain. I’m grateful to have a platform where I can share my opinions about one of my greatest passions in life. Whether we agree or disagree, whether you call it football or soccer and regardless of the team you support, it’s these commonalities and differences that make the debate and discussion all the more interesting. And when life gets tough and it feels like there is no hope, it’s things like the beautiful game than can provide respite and a little distraction. Sometimes it even inspires us to keep going.
Thank you again Soteris for sharing your story with me and just like I hope Arsenal win a trophy again one day, I hope for even greater things for the island of Cyprus. An island in the sun that afforded me some of the greatest memories as a child and as a young woman.
As the competition reaches its business end, Sophie and Ben discuss Barcelona’s depleted defence (who will partner Piqué?), Messi’s mini-absence, disagree on Víctor Valdés and question whether the Catalans have a mental issue late in games.
The Lounge bar staff also talk Madrid and how it’s all coming together for Mourinho, Casillas vs Diego López, the strikers and how this could be their year. We also chat Cristiano Ronaldo, look at his amazing stats and those of Messi, remember Ronaldinho, weigh up Neymar and big up Málaga, probably the story of this Champions League campaign. Will we see them back next year?
And the show wouldn’t be complete without predictions, some banter, fun, info, insight and interaction. From Sophie in LA and Ben in Barcelona, to you the world: This is La Liga Lounge…The One with the Champions League Quarters. Join us! It’s always happy hour here.
The players have played with apathy and haven’t been consistent enough. In fact, it seems as though winning the title last season was proof enough in their eyes that they’d arrived as one of the big boys in England, and Europe! The bottom line is something just hasn’t been right this season.
From the distractions of Mario Balotelli and Roberto Mancini’s tactical tinkering early on in the season, to missing out on signing Robin van Persie and stinking up the Champions League, the blue side of Manchester has stuttered and faltered with a lack of identity and a shortage of passion.
What is Manchester City’s identity? What is their club culture? It takes more than winning the F.A.Cup and Premier League to be considered a big club. Remember Blackburn Rovers? They too won the Premier League. Have a listen and let me have it whether you agree or disagree.
Lob me a header or volley @soccerdiva. Football, soccer, call it what you want. It’s just like being down the pub with your mates.
Manchester United may have an abundance of talent, but are they that good or are they being gifted the title by their rivals in the Premier League? Is this season an average season for English football?
What about Liverpool? Is Luis Suarez finally living on Planet World Class? Is Suarez the frontrunner for Player of the Year? Also, if we point the finger at Suarez for diving, shouldn’t Gareth Bale be vilified for the same? And can the scouse house challenge for a top four spot next season?
What about the lauding of Gareth Bale? Can he save Tottenham from their annual mental meltdown? Or has Andre Villas Boas added that extra edge to ensure Tottenham are playing Champions League football come next season?
He was once known as the Boy Wonder. Now we all just wonder about Wayne Rooney and what his legacy will be if his career continues to evolve as it has over the last few seasons. Rooney has been at times nothing short of sensational for Manchester United. What has lacked is consistency. Can he live in the shadow of great players like Ronaldo or Robin van Persie? Should he leave the Theater of Dreams to re-ignite his career?
This week’s Red Card goes to the Premier League. When two giants like Manchester United and Chelsea are battling it out in the people’s cup, don’t schedule a league match between exciting teams like Liverpool and Tottenham. Let the F.A.Cup have its moment in the sun. Let it have the spotlight for about half-an-hour. We know you are the beast of football, so stop flexing your schedule muscles. Rant over!
Football, soccer, call it what you want. It’s just like being down the pub with your mates! Lob or volley me @soccerdiva.
Two Clásico clashes in five days and both were won by Real Madrid. We haven’t seen that for a while. Sophie and Ben discuss the two latest installments of the famous fixture in an hour-long special not to be missed!
What is wrong with Barcelona? Qué pasa con Messi? We also talk Tito and Roura, Pique and Alves, the penalty incident and much more!
And then there’s Madrid, of course. Is Mourinho having the last laugh? Is Ronaldo the world’s best player right now? We look ahead to the Champions League clashes, talk Milan and Manchester United and even made some predictions for our respective teams in the North London Derby!
It’s an epic! So join us for our Happy Hour special!!
The Arsenal empire is crumbling before our very eyes. Gone are the victorious days and glorious moments of lifting trophies. The winning culture at the Gunners has long past and the once dominant and beautiful north London team continue to spiral out of football form.
Arsenal and Wenger have been extremely stubborn with their transfer policy. The ramifications of this philosophy is now evident on the pitch. Something has to change. The red card and criticism is deserved.
Oldham Athletic is our team of the week. We give them lots of football cuddles and love for bringing the F.A. Cup to life this season. Oldham have provided typical F.A. Cup drama and good old fashioned football. And they are doing it against Premier League teams. We tip our hats to you.
Player of the week goes to Barcelona babe Lionel Messi. He can’t stop scoring. He breaks records every weekend! If you haven’t heard about his latest achievement, have a listen and see what the wee magic man has done now.
If you adore what you hear or if you find it completely annoying, have your voice heard and lob us a tweet @soccerdiva. Football, soccer, call it what you want. It’s just like being down the pub with your mates! Get the drinks in.