HISTORIA DE UN ROMANCE: SCHOLES Y OLD TRAFFORD

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Paul Aaron Scholes ama al Manchester United, y así lo demostró durante sus 20 años de carrera como futbolista.

Un jugador con una visión de juego envidiable, puntería milimétrica a la hora de pasar la pelota y un timing más que preciso a la hora de ir al piso a batallar por el redondo cuero. Esto provocaba que grandes equipos del mundo se dispusieran a gastar dinerales en el mediocampista, o que entrenadores se volvieran locos por él, quedando magnificados por la claridad con la que el pelirrojo nacido en Salford, Inglaterra, se movía por el campo de juego. Pero no, el apego de Scholes por el club que lo vio debutar en Primera División valía más que cualquier suma de billetes en cualquier tipo de cambio. Por eso, desde su debut en los Red Devils allá por julio de 1993, Scholes decidió ser fiel a su equipo; casi como una promesa de bodas en la que los novios juran estar juntos hasta que la muerte los separe.

Es verdad, si miramos en la letra chica, Paul no debutó profesionalmente sino hasta la temporada 94-95. El día de su primer partido con la primera del United, se dio el gusto de anotar un gol en la victoria de su equipo ante el Port Vale, por la Copa de la Liga. Por otro lado, su debut en Premier League fue ante el Queens Park Rangers, en la derrota por 3 a 2. Un 10 de Diciembre de 1994.

Su asentamiento en el primer equipo y la Selección Inglesa:

Con la partida de Mark Huges al Chelsea, el histórico DT de los Reds, Alex Ferguson, notó en Scholes la suficiente madurez y calidad como para jugar de titular en un equipo tan grande como lo es el Manchester United. Esto, sumado a la sanción recibida por Éric Cantona tras la famosa patada en el pecho a un espectador, postulaban a Paul como un gran socio para el goleador del Manchester en aquel entonces: Andy Cole. Ese mismo año, mientras la figura de Alan Shearer en el Blackburn Rovers se agigantaba, dirigentes del United ofrecieron a su futura estrella como parte de pago de una posible transferencia en la que se involucraban Shearer, Scholes y 5 millones de Libras Esterlinas. No satisfechos con las cifra ofrecida, la directiva de los Rovers decidió desestimar la oferta del club más ganador del fútbol Inglés, y finalmente Shearer terminó siendo vendido al Newcastle United, club en el que luego se convirtió en leyenda.

Con la lesión de Roy Keane en septiembre del 1997, Scholes fue movido al mediocampo, posición donde mostró su más alto nivel. Ese mismo año recibió su primera citación para jugar en la Selección de Inglaterra. Su debut se dio en un amistoso con victoria 2-1 ante Sudáfrica. Un año después, y en base a sus grandes actuaciones, Glenn Hoddle lo convocó para jugar el Mundial de Francia. En dicho campeonato, la selección de los tres leones fue eliminada por Argentina en los Octavos de Final tras la tanda de penales. La revancha llegaría cuatro años después, en Corea-Japón, pero la suerte seria la misma. Tras el segundo puesto en la fase de grupos, y un contundente 3-0 a Dinamarca en los Octavos de Final, Brasil acabó con la ilusión de Scholes y toda Inglaterra. 2-1 en tiempo extra, y nuevamente la vuelta a casa antes de tiempo. Luego de la Eurocopa del 2004, el pelirrojo decidió renunciar a jugar con su país, para así dedicar más tiempo a su querido Manchester United.

Las lesiones:

Durante su carrera, Scholes debió lidiar con muchas lesiones que lo alejaron de la práctica del fútbol reiteradas veces. La primera importante ocurrió en octubre del 2007, días después de enfrentar al Dynamo de Kiev por la Champions League: Una rotura de ligamentos lo alejó de las canchas hasta enero del año siguiente. Ese año, durante la final de la Champions ante el Chelsea, el volante debió ser sustituido cerca del final del encuentro, producto de otra lesión que le impidio disputar el tiempo extra y ejecutar en la tanda de penales que finalmente, consagró a los Red Devils.

Las molestias en su rodilla lo condicionaron durante el resto de su carrera, perdiéndose choques decisivos como frente al Real Madrid, en febrero del 2013, o las 10 semanas de baja en 2008-2009, cuando frente al Aalborg danés se lesionó en la misma zona que aquel Enero del 2008.

Retiro y vuelta al ruedo:

Tras llegar a su partido 600 con la camiseta del Manchester, en abril del 2009 frente al Porstmouth, los rumores de un posible retiro sonaron cada vez más fuerte en Inglaterra. Dichos rumores parecieron disiparse cuando a mediados de 2010 renovó contrato por una temporada más, pero finalmente, el 31 de Mayo de 2011, Paul Scholes anunció su alejamiento de la práctica de fútbol profesional, e inmediatamente se sumó a la directiva técnica del club. El 5 de Agosto se disputó un partido homenaje al mediocampista, con goleada por 6-0 al New York Cosmos. Obviamente, el encuentro se realizó en Old Trafford. El inglés se dio el lujo de abrir la cuenta con un golazo de larga distancia.

Para sorpresa de todos, en 2012, Scholes se reincorporó al fútbol luego de que Sir Alex Ferguson lo convenciera. Por aquel entonces, la plantilla del Manchester contaba con una gran cantidad de lesionados. Tras una temporada regular, el colorado anunció su retiro por segunda vez. En esta oportunidad, fue de manera definitiva.

El mundo a sus pies:

“En todos lados a donde voy, Directores Tecnicos me dicen que Paul Scholes es el jugador que más admiran, pero yo les respondo que pierden su tiempo. Él ama al club, y no hay manera de que se vaya”. – Sir Alex Ferguson.

“Si tuviera que elegir 11 jugadores para mi equipo, sin dudas Scholes estaría entre ellos. Un centrocampista que posee calidad, carácter y plenitud”. – Marcelo Lippi

“En La Masia, su nombre era nombrado frecuentemente. Es un maestro, una inspiración”. –Lionel Messi.

“Se lo digo a todos los que me preguntan. Paul Scholes es el mejor jugador de Inglaterra”. –Laurent Blanc

(Tras la pregunta de un periodista acerca de que se siente ser el mejor mediocampista del mundo) “No lo sé, pregúntale a Paul Scholes”. – Zinedine Zidane

“Es un magnifico jugador. En Manchester United estamos agradecidos de que haya jugado toda su carrera con nosotros. Es una gran persona también, y no hay dudas de que será recordado por siempre aquí en Manchester”. – Sir Bobby Charton

“Nadie en el mundo juega como Scholes. Los pases que hace, y como cambia el rumbo del juego, es brillante”. Dimitar Berbatov

“Me encanta ver a Scholes. Los pases que hace, su cuerpo con el cabello colorado y el rojo en su camiseta”.  –Socrates (Brasil)

Hay otra manera de analizar la carrera de Scholes: mirando su palmarés. El volante del Manchester United convivió con la gloria. Nació para jugar, y llegó a Old Trafford para ganar.

TIT SCHOLES

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Temperley, Ricardo Rezza y Billy Bremner. Pelotazo al nueve, siempre.

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