Just about a week after Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson called Barcelona striker Lionel Messi one of the greatest players of all time following the Argentinian’s third consecutive FIFA Player of the Year award, another key Man U figure has plenty to say. Rio Ferdinand, himself quite an accomplished national selection player, says his teammate Paul Scholes belongs in the same class as Messi and fellow Player of the Year finalist Xavi.
Given Scholes comeback from retirement, which has thus far been extraordinary, he may have some cause for such outlandish praise. The 37-year-old Scholes took the summer off after announcing his retirement, but couldn’t scratch the itch and made a comeback last month. Thus far the English midfielder has notched a goal in his only Premier League game against Bolton and put forth quite a solid performance in Man U’s FA Cup defeat of rival Manchester City.
“Only a handful of players could [come out of retirement so effectively],” insists Ferdinand. “Iniesta, Xavi, Messi — they’re the type of players who look as though they could play football at the drop of a hat at the top level. It’s natural to them.”
Interestingly enough, all three of Scholes supposed football peers play for Barcelona, but we’ll leave that topic for another day. Whether or not you believe the hype that Ferdinand has puffed out with his elegiac words, Scholes does deserve his due as a modern day great in the UK. And while it’s a little more than a little but unlikely he’ll end up belonging in the same class as Messi when things are all said and done, the British midfielder may serve as a role model for the younger Barcelona trio Ferdinand compared him to–in terms of aging gracefully, something Scholes certainly has done with the best of them.