Could ‘Ginger Pele’ have been Englands ‘White Knight’?

by admin

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

So Paul Scholes announced his retirement from football this week, after an illustrious career that spanned well over 700 appearances for club and country. Upon hearing the news I was struck with a strange, indescribable feeling. It wasn’t surprise, as I knew it would either be now or in 12 months time. It wasn’t sadness, as I knew he has had a long and successful career. The only way I could attempt to describe it would be a sense of ‘what-might-have-beenism’.
For United, Scholes had achieved all he could. 9 Premier League winners’ medals, 2 Champions League winners’ medals, 3 FA Cup medals, 2 League Cup medals and a Club World Championship medal make him one of the most successful players this country has ever produced. Yet despite all the glory at club level, I couldn’t get my head around the fact that this guy made only 66 appearances for England.
Yes he retired from international football in 2004, but as proved last summer he would have come out of retirement if he felt valued and wanted enough. I find it astonishing that a player described by no fewer than FOUR legends of the game (Pele, Zidane, Henry and now Iniesta) as one of the best ever, could have had such little impact internationally.
What makes it all the more sad is that since 2004, the central midfield options for England have been mostly awful. Yes Lampard and in particular Gerrard have been regulars, but Lampards form has been hit and miss and Gerrard keeps getting played out of position! Owen Hargreaves, Jermaine Jenas, Michael Carrick and most frighteningly of all Gareth Barry have all tried and failed to fill the void left by Scholes, and it makes me wonder how different things may have been if we had managed to coax him back onto the pitch.
He has proved in his 7 years since retiring that he can still operate at the top level, and had he been in an England shirt I honestly believe we could have genuinely had a crack at winning a tournament. Imagine, for example, a partnership of Lampard and Scholes with say Gerrard pushed up behind Rooney! He could have been the difference between success and failure in 2006, the difference between qualification and embarrassment in 2008, and the guy who could have held the ball against the Germans in 2010!
Of course we will never know, and it’s all just a matter of opinion, but I think with the lack of options we had between 2004 and 2010, England could have done with a player described by Zinedine Zidane as ‘undoubtedly the best midfielder of his generation’.
Not to disagree with one of the greatest players of all time, but I’ll go one better than that Monsieur Zidane: simply a ginger genius.

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