Scholes: Phil Neville tried to persuade me to sign for Everton

Paul Scholes reveals Phil Neville tried to persuade him to join Everton when he came out of retirement in 2012 before Sir Alex Ferguson sorted his Man United comeback ‘in five minutes’ and he returned in a £40 pair of boots from JJB Sports

  • Paul Scholes announced his retirement in 2011 after 17 years at Man United
  • 36-year-old started coaching United’s under-23s but felt he was still fit to play
  • Former team-mate Phil Neville tried to persuade him to join him at Everton
  • But Sir Alex Ferguson arranged a new contract immediately to return to United
  • However, the return was top secret with not even United’s players knowing
  • Unable to tell Nike, Scholes played against Manchester City in £40 pair of boots 

Paul Scholes has revealed he considered joining Everton when he came out of retirement in 2012 – before Sir Alex Ferguson arranged his Manchester United return.

The midfielder was 36 when he hung up his boots in 2011 and even had an Old Trafford testimonial to honour 17 years at the club.

By the start of 2012, Scholes was coaching United’s under-23 team at their Carrington base but felt he was still fit enough to continue playing.

Paul Scholes celebrates scoring against Bolton a couple of weeks after his Manchester United return in January 2012 

Scholes, seen playing against Everton for United, could have signed for the Goodison Park club

It was at this point his former United team-mate and Everton captain Phil Neville tried to convince him to come to Goodison Park.

Scholes told DAZN: ‘I came back in September [2011] with Warren Joyce and the under 23s and I was training every day.

‘I felt as fit as I probably ever had done after having four months off – it was just the break I needed. I said to Joyce that I wanted to play again – I just wanted to play.

‘Where it was I didn’t care. I didn’t expect United to want me back. I spoke to Phil Neville and he said, ‘Come and play for Everton.’

‘I’ve never really wanted to play for anyone else or be involved with any other club but if that was the only option I had then I might have done it, I don’t know.’

His former United team-mate Phil Neville was Everton’s captain at the time and tried to persuade Scholes to sign for them

Scholes, wearing a £40 pair of boots from JJB Sports, returned to United action against City

But despite his advancing years, Ferguson didn’t hesitate to offer Scholes a new contract inside ‘five minutes’ and bring him back into the first-team squad.

In January 2012, Scholes made his ‘second debut’ for United in an FA Cup clash with Manchester City before continuing for another 18 months, winning one final Premier League title – his 11th – into the bargain.

However, it wasn’t as easy as simply walking back into the United side.

He added: ‘The next step had to be Mike Phelan, the assistant manger. I must have spoke to him at 7.30 in the morning because I was so nervous the night before waiting to see what he thought and he thought it was a great idea.

‘Then there’s one more person to get through which was the most important. As soon as I saw Mick I went to see the manager and told him I want to play again.

It quickly became apparent Scholes could still play and he scored four times in 2011-2012

‘I said that I feel fit and I feel okay and [he said], ‘Do you want to play here or do you want to go somewhere else?’

‘There’s no way I wanted to go somewhere else. He said, ‘Right I’ll sort your contract out,’ and that was within five minutes.

‘He was on the phone to David Gill and I think it was the next day I signed for another six months. And then you think, ‘What have I done?’

‘He brought me into the squad to play Man City in the FA Cup. He told me not to tell anybody and the players had absolutely no idea.

Scholes played under Sir Alex Ferguson for another 18 months and won the Premier League 

‘My wife knew and I think I might have told my dad but nobody else knew.

‘We get to the ground on the Sunday and my kit is there. I actually couldn’t get any boots. They couldn’t know I was playing.

‘If I’d asked for a real pair from Nike then they’d know something was going on.

‘I went to the local JJB and I think they were £40 at the time which I thought was quite expensive.’

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