When the Clear Dream Match 3 was announced, I knew that at least one Manchester United player would come to the Philippines, but I didn’t know it would be Paul Scholes. Did I freak out? Yes. And that was only the announcement that Scholesy will be participating in the last Clear Dream Match. So when David Milan asked me to interview Paul Scholes and Andy Cole, I almost passed out. Dreams are for real!
Scholesy is one of my football heroes. I grew up seeing him play on television or reading about him everywhere. I found him interesting as a player—and after the interview, I guess I still do—because he didn’t have time to waste on words during his career. He did his talking on the pitch! Never mind if he is the third most booked player in Premier League history. His pinpoint passes and touches are world class—present tense because we witnessed at the Clear Dream Match that he still has it! His love for football and Manchester United is so genuine that he retired twice in his career. I even blogged about his first retirement back in 2011 and stressed the importance of a midfielder’s role.
As a massive Manchester United fan, it only took me a few minutes to prepare hundreds of questions. I only submitted around 20 plus questions, though, and the Manchester United staff had to screen them a few days before the interview.
Thinking of questions was easy-peasy, but interviewing would be the problem as always. I get nervous whenever I meet my heroes! And Phil Younghusband would know. I gave him a heads up!
Fast forward to June 6, the day of the interview, I woke up all thrilled, and yes, with the usual raging butterflies in my stomach. When I arrived at the venue, a guy handed me the approved questions and they were like thirteen left. I was like, “Why did you remove the juicy stuff?” He laughed and said they didn’t want anything controversial. To be honest, I wasn’t planning to cause a stir; I was just being a curious fan. Of course, I wanted to ask about Sir Alex, David Moyes, and the World Cup! It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I’ll never see Scholesy again.
When I was summoned to the room, a nice British lady told me she had to reduce my questions. I felt bad and disappointed, but I had no choice. There was even a United employee beside me the whole time. I think he was there to make sure that I would only ask the approved questions. I was able to sneak in one, though! I’m sneaky like that.
After the interview, I told Phil Younghusband that I wrote a letter to Paul Scholes. I sort of asked him to give it to Scholesy, but I ended up going with Phil. I was so embarrassed when Phil handed him the letter. I wanted to jump off the building! Everyone said “awww!” in chorus so I did the honest thing and clarified that it wasn’t a love letter. They all laughed. I guess they didn’t believe me.
When I left the hotel, I saw James Younghusband and his friend, and we crossed the street together. “You did well,” said James Younghusband, but I honestly couldn’t tell because I was so nervous the whole time. I was so starstruck! My palms were cold, sweaty, and shaking. My heart nearly jumped out of my chest! Interviewing Paul Scholes is obviously the highlight of my year—or my life! He is my hero and will always be. What a legend! He was radiating with calmness and valor at the same time. Even while sipping tea, he seemed so badass and sharp.
Anyway, below is the extended version of my article on Paul Scholes and Andy Cole. You may also read the actual article that Supreme published HERE.
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 the 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.
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?
PAUL SCHOLES: 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?
ANDY COLE: 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.
PAUL SCHOLES: 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 TO WHERE YOU ARE NOW? HOW DID YOU GET PAST THEM? HOW DID YOU MOTIVATE YOURSELF DURING TOUGH TIMES?
ANDY COLE: 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.
PAUL SCHOLES: 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 strives you 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?
ANDY COLE: 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 that.
PAUL SCHOLES: 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 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?
ANDY COLE: Grassroots. I think if you can get more of your kids into football. Basketball’s the biggest sport here. If you can, try nick a few of them from basketball and work hard at 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 are 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.
PAUL SCHOLES: 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, ten, fifteen years, 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, ten, fifteen years, you may be in a different position.
ANY MESSAGE TO YOUR FILIPINO FANS?
ANDY COLE: Yeah, come to the game tomorrow. Watch it on TV if you can’t come to the game tomorrow.
SCHOLES INTERRUPTS: Don’t expect too much
COLE: Yeah exactly, don’t expect too much from me or Paul Scholes. *EVERYONE LAUGHS* Have a good giggle up if you like.
No it’s just a joke (referring to not expecting too much), it’s a great honor for us to be here. We’ve been received so well since we’ve come out here. The people of the Philippines have been fantastic, very warm, very welcome, and so to say thank you for that.
PAUL SCHOLES: Yeah exactly the same. Hopefully we can provide a bit of entertainment for them. I’m sure it’ll be entertainment whether it’s good or bad I’m not too sure, no like Chloe said just hope the fans and the kids especially can enjoy the game.
All photos courtesy of Ceres Lina of FTW Sports. Thank you to Roy Moore of Payatas FC for helping me transcribe the interview. Be sure to check out his blog!