Paul Scholes was so good during one England training session that he received a guard of honour from his teammates.
That’s according to Kieron Dyer, who represented the Three Lions on 33 occasions between 1999-2007.
Scholes retired from international duty three years earlier than Dyer, aged just 29, following Euro 2004.
“I spoke to Paul nearly a year ago about it when he came to see me and wanted to think about it.
“At the end of the season before he left he said he’d speak to Sven [Goran Eriksson] about it and he did that and he’s come to his decision.
“Paul has made a great contribution to England and I don’t think he feels he’s missing anything now.
“I think 66 caps is beyond an average international career, he is going out at the top and we respect his decision.”
But when you consider what Scholes went on to achieve with Man Utd between 2004-2013, it’s a massive shame for England that they weren’t able to persuade him to continue representing his country.
We’re talking about one of the most gifted footballers that England has ever produced.
Dyer: Scholes received guard of honour from England players
Writing in his 2018 autobiography ‘Old Too Soon, Smart Too Late: My Story’, Dyer said that Scholes is the best footballer he played with during his career and told a story about how the midfielder once received a guard of honour during one particularly outstanding performance in training.
“Paul Scholes was the best player I played with and people like Xavi and Zinedine Zidane counted him as their favourite player,” Dyer wrote, per The Daily Mail.
“Other nations would have used him as their fulcrum but Sven Goran Eriksson’s first-choice midfield was always David Beckham on the right, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard in the centre and Scholes on the left.
“We didn’t have a football culture that appreciated him. So we wasted him by putting him on the left and banished him to the margins. It was disrespectful, one of the biggest crimes ever.
“When you talk about [Steven] Gerrard, [Frank] Lampard and Scholes, Scholes was the best of the three and yet he was asked to give way. He was the absolute master of one touch in training. One day he scored three or four goals — and I’m not talking tap-ins. I’m talking 25-yarders-lodging-in-the-stanchion-type goals.
“When the session was over, the rest of the England players formed a guard of honour and clapped him off the pitch.
“I’d never seen that before and I never saw it again.”
Few players in the history of English football have been capable of hitting a ball as sweetly as Scholes.
Sven: Why I played Scholes on the left wing for England
Speaking earlier this year, Eriksson explained why he sometimes opted to deploy Scholes, rather than Gerrard or Lampard, on the left wing.
“If you look at all-round football, they are good, all of them,” the former England manager told BBC Radio 5 Live, per MSN. “To see Paul Scholes in a very, very good team… he could do everything with the ball; he didn’t lose the ball, he could pass it short, pass it long and score goals.
“He was a fantastic football player and it was beautiful to see him play football. But what do you do with Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and David Beckham? You have to use them.
“If you take Beckham, he had special talents that nobody else had. Gerrard and Lampard were hard-working, goalscoring midfielders and could defend and pass. The best solution if we wanted to use Scholes, at that time, was to put him to the left.”