Belfast Telegraph

I wasn’t a nasty player, claims Manchester United hero Paul Scholes

Paul Scholes has rejected the theory there was any malice behind his infamous tackling technique.

The recently-retired Manchester United midfielder is widely acknowledged to be one of the best players of his generation.

Zinedine Zidane, Xavi and Edgar Davids are among those who hailed Scholes as the English player they would have most liked to star alongside.

However, along with the huge talent that propelled him to 10 Premier League titles and a Champions League triumph in 2008 came occasional haphazard challenges that bordered on the reckless.

Although overall, he was hugely complimentary, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger claimed Scholes had a “dark side.”

And following the final red card of his career, for a thigh-high challenge on Pablo Zabaleta in United's FA Cup semi-final defeat to Manchester City at Wembley in April, even Sir Alex Ferguson admitted “the red mist sometimes descends” on the 36-year-old.

Yet Scholes, whose 90 yellow cards make him the third most booked player in Premier League history, feels his reputation is unwarranted.

“I have just been unlucky. I never had red mist against anybody,” said Scholes.

“The one against Zabaleta, I didn't do on purpose. It was just bad timing.

“The ball was up there and the way your leg goes it has to come down and unfortunately it came down on his leg.

“I would never intentionally try to hurt somebody. Nobody has ever had to go off following one of my tackles.

“I have never been nasty.”

Thus far, Scholes has not been told by Ferguson exactly what role he has planned for him, and which team it involves.

What has been sorted is a testimonial match against New York Cosmos at Old Trafford on August 5, which will mark the return of Eric Cantona, now director of football at one of the most famous names in US soccer, who hope to gain an MLS franchise in 2013.

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