Former Man Utd first-team coach Mick Clegg claims Paul Scholes “hated” playing for England and was “worried about the reaction” if he quit.
Despite playing for the Red Devils until 2013, Scholes retired from international football in August 2004, insisting that his family life and club career at Old Trafford were more important.
Scholes won another five Premier League titles, two League Cups and another Champions League trophy with Man Utd after quitting the international stage.
And Clegg explains how Scholes had confided in him, while having a brew together, that he “hated” England duty.
“I had a kettle in the gym so that I didn’t have to keep nipping up to the canteen for a brew,” Clegg wrote in his new book, The Power and the Glory.
“Scholsey was always telling me to put the kettle on and one day we were having a chat about the Euros that summer. He said he hated playing for England, which came as a bit of a shock.
“I asked him why he kept turning up and he said ‘well it’s England, that’s what you have to do.’
“Paul was worried about the reaction he would get from the rest of the country if he stopped playing for England.
“I asked him if he’d ever felt the same way playing for his school team or with his mates or for United – and he said that was different. He loved that.
“I told him that he was being bullied into doing something that went against his own instincts.
“Not long afterwards, he packed in international football. Was it down to our chat? I don’t know because we never spoke about it again.
“I know he didn’t like being away from home. He was always a family man and he didn’t want to be away from his wife and kids.
“If you go away with England and you’re not happy then you’re not going to perform at your best on the pitch.”
However, Man Utd legend Scholes has admitted in recent years that he regrets leaving England as soon as he did.
“I had a young family at the time and going away for England for ten days at a time, sometimes six weeks in the summer, it just wasn’t ideal and I wasn’t enjoying it,” Scholes told BBC Radio Five Live in April 2020.
“I know a lot was made of Sven-Goran Eriksson playing me on the left-hand side of midfield but that was never the problem.
“My form in the last 20 or 30 caps wasn’t quite good enough and Steven and Frank were two top-class players who he went with centrally. I was on the left but I played there many times for United and was quite successful there, scored a few goals so it was never really why I left England. It was just a personal choice.
“I do regret leaving England so soon. I went back to United and my football changed. I had been a player who was expected to score goals all the time for England, which I was judged on.”
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