English Premiership

Scholes leads Becks tributes

2013-05-18 09:03
Paul Scholes (AP Photo)

London - Paul Scholes said his former Manchester United and England team-mate David Beckham's decision to retire was a "sad day", as tributes to the Paris Saint-Germain superstar continued to pile up on Friday.

Scholes and Beckham, both 38, came through the youth ranks at United together in the early 1990s and enjoyed huge success as midfield partners before Beckham left for Real Madrid in 2003.

Following subsequent spells with Los Angeles Galaxy, AC Milan and, latterly, PSG, Beckham announced on Thursday that he is to retire at the end of the campaign.

Scholes remained at United, but he, too, will bow out of the game at the end of the season, having announced his retirement last week.

With United's long-serving manager Alex Ferguson also set to step down after his side's final league game of the season at West Bromwich Albion on Sunday, it means a glorious era at the Old Trafford club is coming to an end.

"It's a sad day, but hopefully David is happy with what he's done," Scholes told British newspaper The Daily Mail.

"From the start, you knew the quality he had and the professionalism. His range of passing and his free-kicks were brilliant and that was no accident -- he was out there practising all day long.

"That's our year finished now. I think there's only Ryan Giggs, who was a year older than us, still going as strong as ever."

Meanwhile, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has revealed that he was once interested in signing Beckham.

Beckham spent periods training with Arsenal during close-season breaks for the LA Galaxy, but Wenger said he was deterred by the former England captain's wage demands.

Asked if he had wanted to sign him, the Frenchman replied: "Yes I was, but it was at the period where we could not afford to pay him.

"After that it was a question mark as well before he went to (AC) Milan (on loan), but he was in a position where we did not really need (players).

"It was always a pleasure to have him here for his attitude and behaviour. He gained respect from everybody through his dedication and commitment."

Tottenham Hotspur manager Andre Villas-Boas said Beckham's career had been "immaculate".

"(He is) a sporting legend, a great, great career. For somebody who has such a high profile, he has been immaculate as a sportsman and as a person," said the Portuguese.

Wigan Athletic manager Roberto Martinez said he was particularly impressed by Beckham's performances for Madrid during their 'Galactico' era of signing megastar players.

"He's been a football icon. I think he's had an incredible contribution wherever he's been," said the Spaniard.

"Probably the most significant one was the move he had at Real Madrid. At the time of the Galacticos, there couldn't be a harder moment to arrive and I thought he was an incredible ambassador for English football."

However, former England winger Chris Waddle swam against the tide of popular opinion by claiming that Beckham's ability as a footballer was vastly inflated.

"You can go down a list of footballers since the Premier League (began in 1992) and I don't think David Beckham would probably be in the first 1,000," Waddle told BBC radio.

"I would say he has been a good player. I wouldn't put him down as a great."

Waddle added: "He has got a terrific image and used it very well. He never had a trick, wasn't particularly quick, but he was very good at set-pieces and deliveries, he made chances and made goals and was fantastic for clubs."


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