Manchester United midfielder Paul Scholes has admitted that he has come to regret turning down the chance to represent England at the World Cup, and revealed that he may have considered travelling to South Africa if he had been given more time to reach a decision.
Scholes also told that he was contacted by England assistant manager Franco Baldini on the day before the 30-man preliminary squad was announced in May, and given a mere two hours to make the call whether or not to renounce his six-year international retirement;
“It was difficult. [Baldini] rang me the day before [the squad was announced], I probably just needed a bit more time. I thought after a week, a couple of weeks, that maybe I should have gone.
I am not saying I would have made a difference. I don’t look back and think it didn’t go well for England because I didn’t go. I am just saying it was a chance to play in the World Cup and I turned it down.
It wasn’t until you start seeing all the build‑up to the tournament and I thought maybe I made the wrong decision. It wasn’t the manager who rang me but Baldini. It was flattering.”
Scholes also admitted that he was perturbed by the fact that the phone call wasn’t made by Fabio Capello, and that things may have been different if it had been the England manager himself that had contacted him;
“I don’t know. Maybe it might have meant more [If Capello had called]. I thought it wasn’t much time. That’s why I probably said no, not just because he had given me a couple of hours to think about it but the fact I needed a bit more time to think about it.
I had to make a decision in two hours or something. I am not saying it definitely would have been different but I think it might have been. I did not expect it. It wasn’t even on my mind. I got a phone call the day before asking me if I fancied it and saying I had a couple of hours to decide.”
When has a national manager even given a player, especially of Scholes’ considerable status, as little as two hours to mull over the connotations of completely overturning a firm stance which he has held regarding international football for over half a decade – let alone leaving his young family in the lurch for upwards of a month?
With many aspects of Capello’s current regime coming under intense scrutiny following England’s acrimonious World Cup exit, surely it is his selection policy that should be receiving the most intense criticism?