Last updated : 05 August 2004 By editor

The Telegraph reports:

‘The key reason behind Paul Scholes' surprise decision to retire from international football is that his wife Claire is pregnant with the couple's third child. This has caused the Manchester United midfielder to re-evaluate his life.

‘The 29-year-old already has two young children, Aaron and Alicia, but the impending arrival of a third, due in December, is believed to have prompted him into deciding that the time spent away from his home near Oldham would be too much of a sacrifice.

‘Scholes had already made up his mind before Euro 2004 that the tournament in Portugal would be his last campaign after first discussing the possibility of international retirement with his manager Sir Alex Ferguson more than a year ago.

‘Ferguson confirmed that the player had no long-term injury problems, although last season was one of his worst in that regard. He missed the whole of September with hernia problems and all of November following an operation on his groin.’

The Grauniad also carries the story:

‘Paul Scholes arrived at his surprise decision to retire from international football after learning that his wife, Claire, is expecting the couple's third child, prompting him to put his family ahead of England.

‘Although the 29-year-old first discussed the possibility of quitting England with his Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson last summer, he remained uncertain until confirmation that his wife was pregnant. The arrival of a third child, expected in December, was decisive.

‘Scholes's decision to retire internationally has been warmly welcomed both by Ferguson and United colleagues.’

This article from yesterday’s Independent praises Scholes both as a player and as a person:

‘There was no valedictory press conference, no staged last hurrah in which he waved farewell to all four corners of the stadium, no emotional hug goodbye for the cameras. That has never been Paul Scholes' style. The end of his international career was instead signalled by a short statement on Manchester United's website yesterday afternoon. By the time it appeared he was probably at home, playing with his children, deliberately deaf to the eulogies which began flowing as soon as word got out.

‘Scholes, 29, has gone at a time and manner of his choosing, a feat few players achieve. Most observers will regard his departure from the international scene as premature. He made a big contribution to England qualifying for Portugal and would have been expected to do the same as the team attempt to secure a place in Germany.

‘The recent focus on his lack of international goals obscured Scholes' real talents. A beautiful passer, long or short, with an eye for the incisive, unexpected pass, he makes his team-mates look good. Scholes is one of those players opponents always talk highly of.

‘Scholes has never been a great tackler. That is one of the reasons why he, not Steven Gerrard, was the player shunted to the left in Euro 2004 when Eriksson decided he had to accommodate Frank Lampard. Ironically it was from the left flank that he broke his scoring drought against Croatia but he made it clear he was unhappy on the margins. Sadly it was equally evident that he was struggling to play back-to-back matches in the heat.

‘That experience may have been a factor in his decision but no one should doubt the overriding reason was a desire to spend more time with his family. Scholes has remained true to his roots, taking his son, Aaron, to watch Oldham just as his own father took him. He maintains a low profile, preferring to spend his free time with his wife Claire, who he has known from school, and his children Aaron and Alicia, rather than the golf course or the nightclub.’