Paul Scholes' best assist? Man Utd icon's insane backspin pass for England vs Italy

We never really saw the best of Paul Scholes on the international stage.

Part of the reason for that was due to the Manchester United legend being shifted out wide to allow Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard to operate as a central midfield pairing.

It certainly wasn’t the greatest call from those in positions of power within the England setup, with Scholes earning only 66 caps overall – which is a criminally low number for a generational footballer.

But while we only got to see the ginger-haired maestro with the Three Lions on his chest for only seven years (1997-2004), he was still able to produce some moments of magic in that time.

Scholes famously scored both of England’s goals in a 2-0 victory over Scotland in the Euro 2000 play-off first leg.

And he also produced an assist worthy of being hung in a footballing museum on his first ever start for the senior side against Italy in 1997.

It came at Le Tournoi, a mini tournament that featured the Azzurri, France and Brazil, but was won by Glenn Hoddle’s England side.

Paul Scholes with England back in 1997
4 Jun 1997: Paul Scholes of England celebrates scoring a goal during the match against Italy in the Tournoi De France in Montpellier, France. England won the game 2-0. \ Mandatory Credit: Shaun Botterill /Allsport

The Three Lions beat Italy 2-0 in their first match, Arsenal legend Ian Wright opening the scoring after just 26 minutes.

It was a goal that was all about Scholes, though.

He picked up the ball in the middle of the pitch and then played a perfect 50-yard pass that split legendary defenders Fabio Cannavaro and Alessandro Costacurta open.

What made the ball over the top even more special was the fact it had some serious backspin on it, which allowed Wright to smash the ball into the back of the net first time.

Check out the goal in all of its glory here…

Video: Scholes’ insane backspin assist for England vs Italy in 1997

Genius, pure genius. Words simply cannot do the pass justice, it’s that good. The run and finish from Wright weren’t bad either…

Fan reaction

If only England had used Scholes properly while he was in his prime, eh?

Who knows, the fabled ‘Golden Generation’ may have actually won a major trophy, instead of falling at the quarter-final hurdle on every single occasion.

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