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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Red News Exclusive Interview with Paul Scholes in full to read here

This interview first appeared in RN183 in September 2011 - you can read interviews and features and much more in every edition of the fanzine - entirely different from web content, exclusive to the mag. Different - don't miss a single edition.

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Paul Scholes, My Story, out in September, £7 off advanced order here

It is the morning after the day before. That day being the quite surreal and superb 8-2 win over Arsenal. Loathe of the media attention as we well know, RN has been after a 2nd interview with Paul for some time, and he kindly agreed to speak us as his football career ended, and his coaching one was about to start. We don’t need to list superlatives for him. We will miss him. I already do, even though the future looks in safe hands. Blessed to have seen him. As we all were.

RN: Hi Paul, how are you then?
PS: Ok mate, you?

RN: Fantastic after yesterday!
PS: Yeah, what a result that was.

RN: It was just mad, where did you watch it?
PS: I'm on holiday in Portugal so I watched it here.

RN: What is it like seeing a game from that perspective now?
PS: A little bit weird but it’s good. Obviously I knew my time was up anyway, so it’s great to watch and to see the young lads, it is refreshing really.

RN: Did you cheer and were there many ABUs around you?
PS: I was just sat with my son and a couple of friends watching it so yeah it seemed like we were up every two minutes it seemed like!

RN: You said on the MUTV interview that you haven't missed pre-season and that you didn't enjoy them anyway. How has it felt now the season has started?
PS: Yeah, I haven't missed it, I've missed the lads and stuff but I haven't missed the games one bit really, I've had my time, I had a long time playing and that time is over now and it is gone and I'm looking forward to watching United now and just being a fan.

RN: Can I say as a fan that I still think ‘one more year please’.... I know it sounds corny!
PS: (Laughs) No, my time was up, I knew that, the way I felt towards the end of the season wasn't brilliant and if I had stayed another year I might have played ten or fifteen games and I don't think that would have been justifiable really.

RN: Gary Neville in his book is quite detailed about his West Brom game and how bad he felt then and just knowing. Was there a moment for you or was it just a gradual thing?
PS: It was just a gradual thing for me, up until Christmas and the Rangers away game I felt brilliant, absolutely brilliant, the legs were fine and I got a slight groin injury and I should have been out for a week really and I kept coming back too soon and ended up being out for several weeks. From then on I never felt great, my legs... I can't remember a day when I actually felt good whether it was training or in a game. So I knew unquestionably towards the end that the time was right to go.

RN: At the Blackpool game and you pinged a fifty yard pass near the end and I thought I know the final was to come but I can take that memory of you. Was there a moment when you thought that you were happy at the end here?
PS: Not really, no, the last few months I didn't really enjoy it at all, physically I felt shocking I was in pain every day with my legs I was taking anti inflammatories everyday just to try and feel good but nothing seemed to be working so more than anything my legs were telling me that it was time to go. That Blackpool game was actually my first game back after being out for seven or eight weeks and I didn't feel great.

RN: I was at Port Vale where it all started, how do you look back on it all now, are you getting time to reflect?
PS: Not really, no, it’s not’s gone now the only thing I am thinking about now is starting my coaching to be honest with you. It’s nice and I enjoyed my career , I loved playing for United for so many years and I found myself very lucky to have done that but it has gone now. There are maybe some nice memories here and there but it has gone and I'm looking forward to starting a new part of my life now.

RN: Are you excited by it all? Speaking to a few ex-players and they say this period afterwards is exciting but a little bit scary because you haven't got the day to day routine.
PS: That's something that I hope I will have and it is something I do want, I want to have that day to day routine of knowing who I am coaching, who I am going to watch. I want to have that definite kind of job if you know what I mean and hopefully in the next few weeks that will be sorted out for me.

RN: Xavi did an interview just before the European Cup final and he said his coaching belief was what Barca do that from the ages of 6 or 7 they are working on the short passing, they all know each other and they all know what they are going to do. Is it something that you believe in, that you grow up as a unit?
PS: Yeah I think so, it’s something that from five or six of us breaking through to the first team and we all knew each others game inside out. I don't think we played the same way as Barcelona but I think in England it is something we have aspire to. There is definitely something over there that they are doing right. Their football and the way it should be played. I think first and foremost it comes from the manager, Guardiola who was a very similar player to the likes of Xavi and Iniesta and that’s transitioned through to his team.

RN: Do you think that is what was so important about the class of ‘92 that you all knew each other and all knew what each other would be doing during matches?
PS: Yeah, definitely like you say Barcelona have that similar kind of thing now and they have been more successful than we have winning the European, the Champions League and stuff but it was very similar, we knew each other from being 14, 15 years of age so that definitely helps and once we got into the youth team we knew we were a good team playing on Saturday mornings and stuff and at 16, 17, but we never really knew it could be possible to go onto the highest level of the game but thankfully it was.

RN: When they all came for you to grab your shirt, did you think of running away? How did you choose who gets it after the Final?
PS: I think that’s all become a bit of an exaggeration! There was only Iniesta who asked me and I was proud that did ask me, it’s just good the winning goalscorer from the World Cup Final, one of the best players in the world so it was a great shirt for me to get.

RN: Without brown nosing too much you were clearly one of the great players in the world, is that how you saw yourself or were you quite humble- if that makes sense?!
PS: I know what you mean but I don't agree with being one of the best players, the best players in the world, these players go on to win European Championships, they go on to win World Cups and I always felt I fell short of that level. I have only won one European Cup where as the top players in the world like your Xavis, Iniestas are there year in, year out, these are the players, I mean your Zidanes, Ronaldos these are the ones who are winning World Cups, these are the proper players and I think I fell below that level.

RN: Both you and Gary mention about England, it seems such a long term problem, can you see it changing, can you ever see it improving over the next say ten years?
PS: You would always like to say ‘yes’ but for me at the minute no I can't, you can go over the last, I don’t know, what? The last four or five tournaments, England may have got to a couple of quarter finals but there is nothing else to show for it and South Africa was a complete disaster. I just don't know why, maybe there is too much expectation on England, I don’t know. I think the England team these days are treated like world superstars from what they do at club level and I don't think that helps when they go to England because they are all molly coddled and pampered, they are treated like they are world champions before actually being a successful team to do that.

RN: Somehow United seem to handle that expectation and pressure, how do you think that works?
PS: Maybe that comes from the manager, I don't know. I just think the England manager these days changes that often there can never be that stability and I think managers just go out for the England job for the money these days.

RN: You might not have seen yesterdays Mail but they have done Gary's extracts and he has talked about the apprenticeship punishments and the Clayton Blackmore love making with the posters! Did you have to do any of that?
PS: You what, sorry?!

RN: Mark Hughes and Bryan Robson make Gary Neville pretend to make love to a Clayton Blackmore poster!
PS: (Laughs) Yeah, there was a little bit of that! (laughs again). Yeah, Gazza got it! Gazza has mentioned it in his book I think ain’t he.

RN: It sounds scary!
PS: There was all kind of things that they made you do when you were an apprentice but it’s all part of growing up isn't it and it’s something you have to do. It’s not nice but you get through it for that first year and away you go!

RN: Now you can get your revenge on Robbo!
PS: (Laughs) Get revenge on Robbo?! I don't think so!

RN: We asked our readers what they thought your best performance was and there were so many different replies, not for a goal say, what was your happiest game?
PS: It’s always nice when you’re coming to the end of the season and you have played well and you need to win something. Scoring a goal in an FA Cup Final will always be special. The FA Cup Final against Newcastle, the mid leg of the treble was a brilliant day for me I’ll be honest, I passed the ball to Teddy to score and I ended up scoring a goal afterwards so that is probably one of my most memorable times.

RN: Was the low point, the Arsenal League Cup situation?
PS: Yeah, that was a stupid thing to do, I know that now but at the time you think it is right, you're young and you’re not as experienced as you should have done. It’s something I should never have done. I will always regret that but it is done now and there is not much I can do about it.

RN: Your testimonial goal was a belter, did you just think that was perfect, written in a script?
PS: Yeah, It seemed that way. I don't know, I just shot, I've managed to score a few of them over the years and in my last ever game at Old Trafford it was nice to be able to do it again, I just caught it perfectly and gave the keeper no chance (laughs). I was very pleased with that goal actually, being the last game in my testimonial, it couldn't have worked out any better.

RN: Does it feel strange the way everyone is talking about your career over now when you are still young and you still have your life ahead of you.
PS: Nah, it doesn't feel strange to me. To me, it only matters what I think really and to me my official football playing life is over. Brian Kidd always said to me when I was 17/18 that it will be gone in a flick of your fingers, and your career will be gone and I thought he was mad because I thought I’m hopefully going to play until I'm 35. I managed to play until I'm 36 but he was dead right, it’s come and gone, it’s flashed by but it is over with now, my playing days are gone and I have to make sure that whatever I do now I can be as good as I can at doing that as well.

RN: Did people talking, and joking, about your tackling do your head in at times?
PS: I don't know, it just happened didn't it, I never felt I was that bad a tackler really, obviously I was late a few times but I think towards the end of my career it also affected referees and every time I tackled somebody I got booked which got annoying really but that is something I have brought upon myself I suppose by gaining that sort of reputation.

RN: Now you are doing these interview which I know are forced on you (PS: sniggers in agreement) with the book and the testimonial can we see this as a new Paul and you will be on Sky with Gary next?
PS: No! I wouldn't have thought so, no, I will leave the talking to Gary! Gary is brilliant at what he does it is the perfect job for him, he is as honest as the day is long and he will tell it how it is which is what people need to hear.

RN: If you could sum up the whole United experience what has it meant to you?
PS: It has been my life since I left school and hopefully it will be my life for the next good few years as well. It’s been an amazing experience to play with some of the greatest players in the world and I just find myself very, very lucky to have done that and as lucky to have won as many trophies as I have done as well.

RN: It’s true that you are seeing Sir Alex when you get back from holiday about the coaching?
PS: Yeah, I'll go and speak to him when I get home and sort something out hopefully.

RN: Good luck for the future and it has been an honour for all of us to watch you play from all of us. PS: Thank you.

RN: Thank you for agreeing to do the interview and we hope to catch up with you in the future. Have a lovely holiday.
PS: Brilliant, thank a lot. Bye.

Interview: Barney. Transcript: John. Thanks to Paul for his time, especially to interrupt his hols for RN. Thanks to Hannah Corbett at Simon & Schuster. Paul Scholes’ My Story is out and available, discounted, through the RN Amazon links on the site.

Paul Scholes, My Story, out in September, £7 off advanced order here


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