Search icon


28th May 2018

Sven-Goran Eriksson offers new reason for why Paul Scholes retired from England

"That was the reason, not the position"

Robert Redmond

“That was the reason, not the position.”

Sven-Goran Eriksson has said the “heat” was the reason Paul Scholes retired from the England team, not because he was played out of position. Scholes was arguably the most gifted English footballer of his generation, but he was infamously put on the left wing during his final years with the national team before retiring from international duty after Euro 2004 when he was just 29.

Eriksson, who was England manager between 2001 and 2006, preferred to use Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard in central midfield and pushed the Manchester United midfielder out-wide to accommodate them.

In truth, Sven should have played all three in midfield. But England were still wedded to their traditional 4-4-2 formation, and as a result, often found themselves outnumbered in central midfield.

Scholes was the ball-playing midfielder the country badly needed but he walked away after England’s quarter-final exit in 2004. Since then, some have suggested that he retired to extend his club career, or because he missed being away from home when at international tournaments.

The most commonly cited reason is Eriksson playing him out of position, but the Swede has dismissed that claim.

According to the former Lazio manager, Scholes walked away because of the “heat” and he struggled to produce his best form in the hot weather England experienced at international tournaments.

“Many times it was too hot for him, he suffered from a little bit of asthma,” Sven said during an interview with The Daily Mail.

“When it got too hot, he was out. He knew he couldn’t play. He couldn’t stand the heat. That was the reason, not the position.”

Scholes himself has admitted that he found the hot weather difficult when he was part of England’s squad for the 2002 World Cup, which was held in Japan and Korea.

“Japan and Korea were very hot, so it was difficult for us to do well there,” Scholes told Four Four Two a couple of years ago.

“As it turns out, we didn’t do too badly, and were 1-0 up over Brazil in the quarter-finals at one stage. But that day the heat did get the best of us. It was so hot we couldn’t even warm up on the pitch. It wasn’t a World Cup I enjoyed.”

Maybe Sven has a point, but Scholes’ struggles in the hot weather was probably another reason not to put him on the wing.

The former United midfielder had a strange England career.

In his first 33 caps, between 1997 and 2001, he scored 13 goals. In his final 33 caps, he only scored just once.

It seems that, by 2004, Scholes was just tired of playing for England for several reasons and decided to focus solely on his career at Old Trafford, which worked out quite well for the midfielder.