The big interview: Paul Scholes – "People blamed Sven for me quitting England, but I'd played on the wing for Man United and scored a lot of goals"

“He’s got no chance – he’s a midget,” was Sir Alex Ferguson’s verdict when he first saw a young Paul Scholes playing in a youth team game for Manchester United in the late ’80s. Over the next two decades, the United manager enjoyed being proved resoundingly wrong as he watched Scholes grow to become the most decorated English footballer ever.

He was also the most revered English player of his era, feted by the game’s elite. Zinedine Zidane called him “the greatest midfielder of his generation”, and witness how quickly Andres Iniesta claimed his shirt after the 2011 Champions League Final. As for his United team-mates, Scholes’s unerring ability to find them with passes led to him being nicknamed ‘Sat-Nav’.

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Sam Pilger

Sam Pilger is a freelance sports writer who writes for Forbes, FourFourTwo, Optus Sport, The Athletic and The Times Magazine. He was previously the deputy editor of FourFourTwo magazine (lucky him), still contributes regularly and has written several books, including Manchester United's Best XI and For Club and Country with Gary and Phil Neville.