Gary Neville never thought Paul Scholes would make it to the top of English football when they started off together in the Manchester United youth team.
The pair were part of the famous ‘Class of 92’ side, with Nicky Butt, David Beckham, Ryan Giggs and Phil Neville making up the other four members that won the FA Youth Cup in 1992 and the Champions League with the senior side in 1999.
Neville told the Quickly Kevin, Will he score? podcast: “If you said to me at 12, 13, Scholesy would be one of the greatest players… how?
“He was so small, so slight. He didn’t have great energy. He had no strength. You could knock him off the ball because he was really slight.
“He had asthma. He couldn’t really run very far. He wasn’t quick, he never beat you for pace.
“So you saw qualities in every single player. And then you look at Scholesey, obviously he was tidy on the ball, but you think how can he? He can’t cope. Physically he can’t cope with everything that’s going on around him.”
However, Scholes was to turn a corner in his youth career where Neville claims he went through a remarkable “transformation”.
“He sort of didn’t really get into the county team,” Neville added. “Didn’t really play a lot of games. In the first year in 1992 he didn’t even play in the youth team.
“All of a sudden the year after, I think that was the point where he stopped drinking beer, and stopped eating pies on a Friday. The transformation in two or three years was unbelievable.
“The club saw him as a player, though. Brian Kidd adored him. Sir Alex said ‘if he doesn’t become a football player we can all pack it in’, and that was when he was 18.
“In our youth team in ‘92, it was Nicky Butt in central midfield with Simon Davies. It was Ben Thornley, Keith Gillespie and Becks. Four of those five – Scholesey never got a look in. I don’t think he was on the bench in the ‘92 final.
“So that was the one to me that was the biggest shock.”
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