MANCHESTER, United Kingdom, January 8 – Paul Scholes came out of retirement and off the bench in a shock return as Manchester United took on holders and local rivals Manchester City in an FA Cup third round clash.
Former England midfielder Scholes, who retired last season having spent his entire senior career with United, took the field in the 59th minute at Eastlands here on Sunday after replacing Nani.
His first touch was cheered by the travelling United faithful but it was his mistake that led to City’s second goal as the home side, down to 10 men after captain Vicent Kompany was sent off, threatened a comeback from 3-0 behind.
Scholes, 37, was named on the bench by United manager Sir Alex Ferguson with his old club having suffered an injury crisis.
“It’s fantastic that Paul has made this decision,” Ferguson said before kick-off.
“It’s always sad to see great players end their careers, but especially so when they do it early.
“But he has kept himself in great shape and I always felt that he had another season in him.
“It’s terrific to have him back.”
Scholes, who linked up with another veteran in United’s 38-year-old midfielder Ryan Giggs, said: “I’ve been pretty clear since I stopped playing that I miss it.
“I’m delighted the manager feels I can still make a contribution to the team and I’m looking forward to playing my part in trying to bring more success to this great club,” he added ahead of a match where his former United midfield colleague David Beckham was among the crowd.
Scholes brought his United career to an end after last season’s Champions League final defeat by Barcelona, although he quickly revealed he felt the decision may have been premature.
He has though continued to work for the club in his role as a coach with the United’s reserve team.