Paul Scholes comes off the bench.

The story of Scholesy's 'snide' boots

Friday 05 March 2021 12:00

Any derby at the Etihad Stadium will throw up memories of Paul Scholes's surprise comeback from retirement during the Emirates FA Cup third-round win in 2012.

The classy long-serving midfielder had hung up his boots seven months earlier and enjoyed a testimonial at Old Trafford but was helping coach Warren Joyce's Reserves and badly missing the action.

He decided to discuss the idea of playing again with Sir Alex Ferguson and was swiftly added to the squad ahead of the away tie, with Darren Fletcher and Tom Cleverley out through injury, and the boss was in agreement but keen to keep it a closely guarded secret. 

Watch Paul discussing his comeback in detail with UTD Podcast.

“I tell you what, within 30 seconds, the manager was on the phone to David Gill to sort the contract out,” he said. “It was quick.

“I carried on training with the Reserves for a week or so. The manager said we wouldn’t tell anyone and would keep it a secret. I was due to play for the Reserves against Newcastle on the Tuesday or Wednesday before City, but it got called off.

“Then I trained with the first team the day before the City game, but I still had my coaches' kit on with ‘PS’ on. The manager just said ‘come to the hotel and act as if you are a coach’. I don’t know why he didn’t want to tell anyone, I don’t know why it was a big secret.

“The manager told me to come to the hotel, sit with the coaching staff, just have a glass of red wine and stuff the night before the game.”

Paul's next step was to do something grassroots footballers have had to do regularly over the years.

“I had to go to the retail park in Oldham to buy a pair of boots, because we couldn’t tell Nike and the coaches’ boots they gave us weren’t great,” he revealed. “So I had to go and buy a pair for £50 or £60. Everybody knows then. I get to the ground and then my shirt was hanging up. Danny Welbeck was saying ‘I knew it, I knew, I knew you were coming back’.

“I was just embarrassed, thinking ‘is everybody looking at me and thinking what is he doing?’ So I put my boots on and went out for a warm-up. Jonny [Evans] said to me, ‘are they the cheap boots that you’ve bought – you’ve bought the snide ones’.“

Paul Scholes prepares to take to the field at the Etihad Stadium.

United were 3-0 up when Scholes came on in the 59th minute, following goals from Wayne Rooney (2) and Danny Welbeck and an early red card for City skipper Vincent Kompany.

Aleksandar Kolorov and Sergio Aguero breathed life into the Blues but United held out to progress, with Scholes seeing plenty of the ball in a bid to try to take the sting out of the home side's comeback.