"When you talk about Gerrard, Lampard and Scholes, Scholes was the best of the three"
"I'd never seen that before and I never saw it again."
Kieron Dyer has revealed that Paul Scholes was once given a "guard of honour" after an England training session because he had played so well. Dyer's new autobiography, written with journalist Oliver Holt, is being serialised in The Daily Mail, and one of the stories from the book is about Scholes.
The former Manchester United midfielder only played 66 times for his country, scoring 14 goals, and opted to retire from international duty following Euro 2004. Scholes was only 29 at the time. The decision was primarily motivated by his desire to spend more time with his family, and prolong his club career, but many felt the midfielder wasn't used correctly by then-manager Sven Goran Eriksson.
Eriksson played Scholes on the left side of midfield in a 4-4-2 formation at the tournament in Portugal. Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard occupied the two central midfield positions and captain David Beckham was on the right side of midfield. Most teams had shifted away from a 4-4-2 formation at the time, and few nations put their most creative and intelligent player on the wing. However, Scholes fell victim to England's tactical illiteracy, and prematurely called time on his international career.
Dyer reckons England made a massive mistake, calling the decision to play Scholes out of position "disrespectful" and "one of the biggest crimes ever." That might be going too far, but he has a point when he says Scholes wasn't used correctly by England, neither was Michael Carrick - who has less caps than Stewart Downing and Shaun Wright-Phillips.
"Paul Scholes was the best player I played with and people like Xavi and Zinedine Zidane counted him as their favourite player," Dyer said.
"Other nations would have used him as their fulcrum, but Sven Goran Eriksson’s first-choice midfield was always David Beckham on the right, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard in the centre and Scholes on the left. We didn't have a football culture that appreciated him. So, we wasted him by putting him on the left and banished him to the margins.
"It was disrespectful, one of the biggest crimes ever."
Dyer, who 33 caps for England, also speaks about a training session which ended with Scholes receiving a guard of honour and getting applauded off the pitch by his teammates.
"When you talk about Gerrard, Lampard and Scholes, Scholes was the best of the three and yet he was asked to give way," the former Newcastle United midfielder says.
"He was the absolute master of one touch in training. One day he scored three or four goals — and I'm not talking tap-ins. I'm talking 25-yarders-lodging-in-the-stanchion-type goals.
"When the session was over, the rest of the England players formed a guard of honour and clapped him off the pitch. I'd never seen that before and I never saw it again."
You can the extract from Dyer's book here.