Former England manager Sven Goran-Eriksson believes Manchester United midfielder Paul Scholes was held back by his asthma condition, but added that he was still the country's best football player, reports the Daily Telegraph.
In the 65-year-old Swede's autobiography - which is released today - he recalls the constant struggle that Scholes had to deal with, revealing how his breathing was badly affected in warmer climates.
At the European Championships in Portugal in 2004, the Red Devils ace didn't even bother practising penalties with the rest of the Three Lions squad, because he knew that "lasting an hour was good" in matches with high temperatures.
“Paul Scholes was at home on a cold February day away to Newcastle,’’ Eriksson wrote.
Despite having asthma, Scholes featured for England at four major tournaments, scoring 14 goals in 66 appearances for his country, before announcing his retirement from international football after Euro 2004.
Part of the reason behind the Manchester United star's early withdrawal was to spend more time with his family, while others cited an increasing frustration at being deployed out of position by Eriksson on the left side of midfield.
Scholes continued to shine at Old Trafford under the tutelage of Sir Alex Ferguson, which made it all the more disappointing that England were denied his service in the years that followed.
"Scholes was England’s best football player. He had everything except the ability to tackle without earning a yellow card," added Eriksson, who managed the national team between 2001 and 2006.
"It was impossible to take the ball from him, and he never mishit a pass.
"He did not belong on the left flank but that’s where we needed him most. He had played on the left in the qualifying campaign, and sometimes even at Manchester United.’’