Paul Scholes has told the story of how he came to play for Manchester United again just months after initially hanging up his boots.
The former international retired after the 2010/11 season, but made his comeback in an FA Cup clash against rivals Man City in January 2012 before going on to extend his Old Trafford career by a further 18 months.
Speaking to BT Sport after watching his old side progress to the FA Cup quarter finals with a 2-0 win at Huddersfield on Saturday evening, Scholes revealed how nervous he was asking to come back to Man United in a playing capacity, but had made up his mind that a return to playing was what he wanted:
“[Alex Ferguson] wanted me initially to come back and coach the reserve team with Warren Joyce.
“So I started helping Joycey, and I was training with the reserves. I was training every day with the likes of Pogba, Lingard, all these types of players. They were a really good side and I was really enjoying training.
“I was getting fit, I felt great, and it got to December time and the team was struggling a bit.
“I spoke to Gary and Phil (Neville) to see what they thought,” he continued. “Then I went to assistant manager Mick Phelan, and I was nervous. But Mick thought it was a great idea.
“A day after I knocked on Fergie’s door and he said ‘great, let’s do it straight away, let me call David Gill and we’ll sort contract out.'”
Ferguson, although supportive of Scholes coming back, kept it a secret from his teammates right up until the last possible moment:
“We were playing City away. We get in the dressing room and my shirt’s there and I’m named as sub.
“I remember Danny Welbeck was next to me and he said ‘I knew something was going on!’
“I had to sort my boots out. I had to go down to the local shop and buy a pair of boots because I didn’t have any! I didn’t have a sponsor, and we couldn’t let Nike know.
“I remember the game itself. We were 3-0 up when I came on and we were against 10 men, and then it went back to 3-2!
“I was taking my gear off ready to come on and (City coach) David Platt said to me ‘what the hell are you doing?’ and I went ‘no idea!'”
Scholes made 14 Premier League appearances (and three more as a substitute) in the second half of that season as Ferguson’s side finished as Premier League runners-up to Man City in dramatic cicrumstances.
He found the next year a bit of a struggle, however, and after making just eight league starts he decided to walk away from playing again in 2013, around the same time that Ferguson also retired.