Manchester United masters in Manila
Miji Gonzales (The Philippine Star) - June 14, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - A week before the 2014 FIFA World Cup kicked off in Brazil, the Philippines got a visit from Paul Scholes and Andy Cole, two former professional English footballers who both played for the England national football team and, of course, Manchester United. Together with Phil Younghusband, James Younghusband, and the country’s top footballers, the Manchester United legends were part of the third and final installment of the Clear Dream Match at the University of Makati on June 7.

Last year, Italian World Cup winner Fabio Cannavaro and former Chelsea player Dennis Wise were the stars of the Clear Dream Match. This year, two legendary Red Devils were here to give the fans a footballgasm.

Paul Scholes, fondly called Scholesy or the Ginger Prince by fans, is a straight-up Manchester United legend. Born and bred in Manchester, Scholesy is part of the Class of ’92, the golden generation of Old Trafford talents that also spawned football icon David Beckham, who visited us back in 2011. Beloved by Manchester United fans and idolized by some football players, the ginger-headed midfield dynamo, known for his sublime passes and scything challenges, made over 700 appearances for the Red Devils and won 66 caps for England. It’s no surprise that French legend Zinedine Zidane called him “the greatest midfielder of his generation.”

Andy Cole, the Nottingham-born striker, had an illustrious career in the Premier League, but despite playing for other teams, he was able to establish himself as a bona fide Manchester United player. Known for his legendary partnership and telepathic link with Dwight Yorke, he helped Manchester United win numerous trophies, from winning five Premier League trophies to lifting the UEFA Champions League trophy in 1999. Even today, he is still the second highest goal scorer in Premier League history. 

To end the battle for Clear Supremacy, Paul Scholes reinforced Team Phil while Andy Cole joined Team James. Team James emerged victorious from the Clear Dream Match trilogy with a 1–0 victory against Team Phil in a match that gave the fans unparalleled excitement with every minute.

Supreme sat down with the two United legends and asked them some questions about everything football.

SUPREME: You’ve played against several legends, but who do you think is the best player in the world and why?

ANDY COLE: Errrrmmmmm . . . (Zinedine) Zidane is the best player for me. Great player, graceful, a gentleman as well. So I’d go with Zidane.

PAUL SCHOLES: Same for me as well. Zidane as always.

How did you feel when Zidane called you the greatest midfielder of his generation?

P: If he did, yeah, that’s nice of him. (Laughs) It would have been nice to play with him, I suppose.

Who would you feature on your dream Manchester United starting XI?

A: My starting XI? I’m very biased, so I would go with what we achieved with the treble. I’d have to go with the 1999 team.

P: My two center forwards, definitely, that has to be Cole and Yorke. Apart from that, I don’t think it really matters who you have in your team ’cause with forwards like that, you’re always going to score goals. I said before I think the best teams always had the best center forwards, and at that time, we had four top center forwards. I think that’s the big difference between the teams at the top of the league and the teams near the bottom of the league — it’s the goals you’re able to score. With forwards like we had, we always knew we could score goals in the team.

What were the biggest hurdles you had to overcome to get where you are now? How did you get past them? How did you motivate yourself during tough times?

A: The biggest hurdle? Oh dear. There are always hurdles. You’ve got to overcome your self-doubt. You get to a stage where you doubt yourself a little bit. There’s always going to be hurdles in front of you (that) you’ve got to overcome. Me, personally, was questioning myself. That’s the toughest.

P: Yeah, you do question yourself. I think the biggest obstacles for me are your teammates, really, the competition that you had to get in the team. It always makes you strive to do better when you know that there’s quality players like the level we played at with England and with United. There are always top players who are ready to come on and take your place, so you always need to be on your game.

What are some of the lessons you’ve learned on your journey? Can you share with us any lessons you learned from football that you were able to apply to life off the pitch?

A: Yeah, be respectful to people. I mean, you know, we can’t all be fortunate enough to be professional footballers or whatever we want to be. But to be respectful to people who have less than you or more than you. That’s a great strength, and I learnt a hell of a lot from going to Manchester United and working under the manager I worked under. You know, you got to be respectful of people, and that’s a massive, massive thing.

P: Yeah, the same — be respectful to people. It’s something that the manager was big on. As Cole said, when he came, he realized that, and that wasn’t just from the start. It was right to the end. He always made sure you were signing autographs for fans and you’re always nice to people and always nice to staff around the place, around the training ground, that you always respected people, and you know, I think that transfers into our life as well. We always tried to be nice people and to be nice to anyone, whoever it is. 

The success of the Philippine national football team prompted the rebirth of football in the country. What do you think needs to be done to maintain interest in the sport?

A: Grassroots. I think if you can get more of your kids into football — basketball’s the biggest sport here — if you can, try to nick a few of them from basketball and work hard at the grassroots level. You can give the kids an opportunity to have a dream that they can be a professional (footballer). Not just in Europe, but I mean throughout the world. I think it all starts from the bottom. England is going through the same thing. Grassroots level’s not good enough, and I think we’re not bringing through enough kids. So if it starts there, you work at that and get better.

P: Yeah, Clear and Man United are over here now, and hopefully that can raise the profile a little bit and can get kids really interested in the game. You know, it’s not something that’s going to happen overnight. But hopefully (in) five, 10, 15years, you’ll start seeing the benefit of that. (Hits teacup loudly; Cole says “Cheers.”) Grassroots, the coaching from Man United football schools can really get kids interested, and like I say, five, 10, 15 years, you may be in a different position.  

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Tweet the author at @mijigonzales.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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