Paul Scholes regrets retiring from England duty aged just 29

Table of Contents
Ex Manchester United player Paul Scholes working for BT Sport prior to The Emirates FA Cup Sixth Round match between Manchester United and West Ham United at Old Trafford on March 13, 2016 in Manchester, England
Photo: Clive Brunskill/GETTY IMAGES

Paul Scholes has looked back on his England career with regret over his early retirement.

The Manchester United legend retired from international duty at the age of 29 after England were dumped out by Portugal in Euro 2004.

Scholes racked up 66 appearances and 14 goals for the Three Lions and played at four major tournaments.

In an interview on BBC Radio 5 Live's Friday Football Social, Scholes spoke of his regret for cutting his England career short.

I do regret leaving England so soon. I went back to United and my football changed. I had been a player who was expected to score goals all the time for England, which I was judged on.

Sir Alex Ferguson saw that he wanted me to play well into my 30s and I needed a different position. I moved back and controlled games from midfield, sitting deep, and I was never that player for England.

I ended up playing there for five or six years and looking back playing there from 30-35 was probably the most enjoyable part of my career. I really enjoyed that position, I wasn't scoring goals but to sit back and control games, I really enjoyed it. I finished with England too early to progress in that position.

The Salford-born midfielder was infamously played out of position on the left wing by then-England manager Sven-Göran Eriksson to accommodate Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard.

I know a lot was made of Sven-Göran Eriksson playing me on the left-hand side of midfield but that was never the problem.

My form in the last 20 or 30 caps wasn't quite good enough and Steven and Frank were two top-class players who he went with centrally. I was on the left but I played there many times for United and was quite successful there, scored a few goals so it was never really why I left England. It was just a personal choice.

Six years after his international retirement, Scholes was begged to return when Fabio Capello was in charge of England.

I was tempted to come back, you'd hear whispers all the time but there was only the one time really officially.

It was before the World Cup in South Africa, I'd played well that season and they were struggling with a few injuries. Fabio Capello wanted me to come back, I got a phone call from Stuart Pearce who was on the staff.

I had a few days to think about it and I felt I was playing well enough, I just decided that it was wrong, I hadn't been involved in qualifying and there were other players who had been in the squad for two years, being away from their families.

Capello didn't ring me, maybe if he had it might have been different. Maybe he could have twisted my arm. Is it something I regret? Probably I do because at that time I was playing really well.

Get new posts by email: