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Page last updated at 17:31 GMT, Tuesday, 4 May 2010 18:31 UK

Paul Scholes wanted to quit, says Sir Alex Ferguson

Paul Scholes celebrates his winning goal against Manchester City
Scholes celebrates his winning goal against Manchester City

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed he talked Paul Scholes out of retiring.

The midfielder signed a one-year contract extension after initially expressing doubts over whether to continue with his career.

But Ferguson says he managed to persuade the 35-year-old to play on.

"I said, 'I'll decide when you retire. Your ability's there, there's no deterioration in your actual play'" he told the club's official magazine.

"When you get to his age, and the same goes for Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville, there's a deterioration in the physical aspect of it. That's natural. We all face that.

"But in terms of his ability, there's no deterioration whatsoever.

"In fact, Paul's every bit as good, if not even better, because the experience he's added to the ability he's got means he's a big asset to us - as he was against Manchester City. He helped to control the match."

Scholes rolled back the years with his last-gasp winning goal at City last month and he could yet claim a 10th Premier League title this weekend.

Ferguson also believes United are benefiting from his decision to focus his energy purely on club matters since his international retirement after Euro 2004.

Although former England manager Steve McClaren tried to change his mind more than once, Fabio Capello never made any attempt to change the midfielder's mind.

"I don't think Paul's the type to feel bitter about that or feel he'd lost something in his life," said Ferguson.

"He made his decision based on his family and I think it helped him for the initial couple of years after he retired from the international scene.

"But he had a great career at that level. He should have no recriminations because it's allowed him to move his career on here to the extent that we've given him a new contract.

"Age always comes into it and Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville and Paul Scholes are not going to last forever.

"But they're defying everyone at the moment in terms of their durability and enthusiasm to play. How they've looked after themselves has been critical and a monumental part of why they're still here."

While the international days of Scholes, and Giggs, are behind them, Ferguson still feels Neville could enjoy a glorious autumn to his career in South Africa this summer.

"He has got a great chance," said Ferguson. "Fabio has not got a really settled right-back.

"Wes Brown has been injured for a while and you have got Glen Johnson at Liverpool but Gary Neville's experience, as he showed in the derby against Craig Bellamy makes him the top man at the moment. His form has been fantastic."

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see also
Neville extends Man Utd contract
30 Apr 10 |  Man Utd
Man City 0-1 Man Utd
17 Apr 10 |  Premier League
Scholes extends Man Utd contract
16 Apr 10 |  Man Utd
Ferguson wants new Scholes deal
19 Feb 10 |  Man Utd

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