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Paul Scholes..

The 'sackable offence' Paul Scholes committed at Manchester United in 2001

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Ask anybody vaguely associated with Manchester United about Paul Scholes and you'll get nothing short of a glowing report.

Famed for his remarkable talent in midfield and unwavering loyalty to the Red Devils, Scholes spent 20 years and accumulated 718 appearances at Old Trafford. He even came out of retirement at late notice to help out the team he loved in 2011.

Every single minute he spent in the United first-team came under the wing of Sir Alex Ferguson, too, with his second departure from the beautiful game coinciding with that of his boss.

Together, the pair amassed an unprecedented collection of silverware with 11 Premier League winners' medals, three FA Cups and two Champions League titles gracing their trophy cabinets.

Yet, believe it or not, it wasn't all plain sailing for Ferguson and Scholes who suffered a blip in 2001 that the latter thought could even his Manchester United career. Just imagine the enormity of that situation.

Scholes told the story to Gary Neville in 2011 when Carlos Tevez was hogging column inches for his refusal to come on as a substitute for Manchester City.

The legendary midfielder explained: “How I was brave enough and stupid enough to do that I don’t know. I have regretted doing it ever since.”

“I was not happy about being on the bench at Liverpool to start with. Then we were being battered 2-0 by Liverpool and I wanted to get on.

Manchester United's midfielder Paul Scho

“I was thinking ‘bring me on, bring me on’ but the manager just left it until about five or six minutes to go.

“I was told I was playing in the League Cup game the next day at Arsenal. At the time the first-team players didn’t play in the League Cup games and I just felt the manager was messing me about a bit.

“We were leaving that night after the Liverpool game from Stockport train station to go to London. I drove to the station and waited for the manager.

“When his car arrived he wound his window down and I told him I wasn’t going. Why on earth I did that I don’t know, I was in a stupid frame of mind and felt like he was messing me about. I can’t remember what he said back to me, I just got in my car and drove home.”

Manchester United v Swansea City - Premier League

The realisation soon set in that Scholes could have played his final game for United, with the Englishman going on to recall:  “Probably driving home I thought there was every chance it could be the end of my career with Manchester United, that probably he would get rid of me now. And he was well within his rights to sack me.

“I had an England game the week after so I knew I was not going to be seeing him for a week.

“I really thought about the implications of what I had done when we were due
back into training.

“We had lost the game 4-0 to Arsenal and I realised what a mistake I had made, particularly letting the young lads down.

Paul Scholes

“I realised I had done wrong and went to see him and apologised. I got fined a week’s wages but that was it dealt with.

“With the manager once something is dealt with it is out the way.”

And the rest - as they say - is history.

Do you think Paul Scholes is the greatest midfielder in Premier League history? Have your say in the comments section below.

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Gary Neville
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