Paul Scholes vs Steven Gerrard vs Frank Lampard is one of English football’s biggest debates.
It’s crazy to think that England’s ‘Golden Generation’ never won an international tournament at the best of times, but it only becomes more and more inexplicable when you recall that midfield.
Besides, there was good reason to think that Scholes, Gerrard and Lampard were amongst the world’s top five midfielders around the time of Euro 2004 and the 2006 World Cup.
Scholes vs Gerrard vs Lampard
But as we are all-too-aware by now, Sven-Göran Eriksson could never cut the right balance in his Three Lions midfield and the trio quickly disbanded into competing in the Premier League.
And while football fans and pundits alike have tried to settle the debate now that all three of them are retired, there will ultimately be no better source than those who played alongside them.
Foster ranks Scholes, Gerrard and Lampard
And, well, Watford goalkeeper Ben Foster just happens to be one of those players after sharing the United dressing room with Scholes and playing alongside Gerrard and Lampard with England.
So, it was absolutely fascinating when Foster stuck his neck out this week by not only picking his winner out of the three Premier League legends, but also ranking them from first to third.
“The order is not belittling anyone because I’ve played with them all and they are: ‘wow’,” Foster explained on the ‘Happy Hour Podcast’. “It would be Scholes, Gerrard, Lampard.
“Like I say, I’ve played with the others for England and they were just phenomenal. They’re all sort of different players. Honestly, I was genuinely surprised by how good Gerrard was.
“Gerrard and Scholes were close. Lampard was a bit of a different player. He would score goals. He would score a lot of goals. But Scholes was [exhales] mad.”
Ok, sure, so there might be a little United bias going on there, but I think it’s clear from Foster’s admittance that Gerrard came close to matching Scholes that he was being 100% honest.
Besides, Foster is by no means saying that all three of them weren’t legendary players and it’s ultimately incredibly difficult to compare and rank midfielders with varying styles of play.
Foster’s brilliant Scholes story
But of all the things that Foster said about Scholes during his podcast appearance, it’s a story from Carrington that sums up why the United legend was given the nod at top spot.
“It was literally one of my first training sessions [at United],” Foster recalled. “I was with the goalies and Tony Coton was the goalkeeping coach.
“We were just sort of taking it in turns, getting some volleys, warming up, all this kind of stuff and I’m just taking a moment to watch the outfield lads out training. Watching all these big boys in action: Ferdinand, Rooney, frigging Vidic, Ronaldo, Scholes, Giggs. All the bad boys.
“Somebody played a ball over to Paul Scholes and without breaking a stride or anything, he did a half-volley – the ball was travelling to him, by the way – straight out to the wing.
“I remember watching and I don’t know if I said it, but I must have gone: ‘oh my god’. I just sort of said it involuntarily sort of thing.
“And Tony Coton, who is leathering the balls to these goalies, just sort of went: ‘who was it – Scholesy?’ Because that for Scholesy was run of the mill. He did that every day in training.”
How many former teammates and opponents have you heard telling stories like that about Scholes? The answer, in case you were wondering, is tonnes and it simply can’t be a coincidence.