Last updated : 05 August 2004 By editor

Scholes’ team-mates Alan Smith and Phil Neville have both paid tribute to his contribution to England, and have also hinted that his decision will be good news for United.

Smith said, "Paul will be a great loss for England but it is good news for Manchester United.

"He is a world-class player but people have to realise he is also a big family man. His wife is expecting another baby and I guess that has given him something else to think about.

"It is his decision and we all respect it but I suppose it is easier to make if you have 60 caps rather than someone like me who only has a handful."

Phil echoed Smith’s sentiment that United would benefit from Scholes’ retirement. "Secretly, every United fan will be really happy that Paul is now free to concentrate on the club. I can actually see him getting better and better and that can only be good news for United."

Neville also urged people to remember the role Scholes has played for England since his debut in 1997, "Rather than delve into the reasons why Paul has done it, people should marvel at the fantastic England career he has had," Neville told MUTV.

"He played 66 times for England and scored 14 goals. In his seven years as an international he was probably the most consistent player in the entire team."

Former United players George Best and Ray Wilkins both feel that England have lost one of their best players.

Bestie said, "To be honest I think England have lost their best player. Certainly he's the most consistent and naturally gifted player we've had for a long, long time. He will leave a void that's difficult to fill."

"We had the same situation with Alan Shearer; they're flying all around the world to play in these games, with many of them being meaningless. And I guess he just decided to spend more time at home which is quite understandable.

"When you speak to people connected with Old Trafford, they think the world of this lad. They think of him as the best natural finisher at the club and when you think about the players they've got there it speaks volumes for the player.

"It's a big loss for England and a big gain for Manchester United. Being a Manchester United supporter and being Irish, I'm quite happy! It's a shame from an England fans point of view but you have to realise that although football is important there is a bit more to life then that.”

Ray Wilkins added, "I'm saddened because I think we as spectators, not only in this country but right through out Europe and the rest of the World, will be missing one hell of a footballer.”

Best’s former team-mate and current United director Sir Bobby Charlton also spoke of his sadness that Scholes has retired, and also dropped an interesting hint as to possible other reasons for his decision.

“I was surprised and I am sorry for England because they don’t have another player like him. He could have got a lot more caps if he carried on. And if I was the manager he would have ended up with more than I did — easy.

“I don’t know if England used him properly because he likes to play in certain positions. He’s got a talent and I think he is England’s best technical player without a doubt.

“Paul is a quiet lad. Maybe he wasn’t comfortable with England and just didn’t enjoy it.”