Man Utd midfielder Paul Scholes retires aged 36

Manchester United's Paul Scholes has ended his playing career, aged 36.

Midfielder Scholes made his United debut in 1994, making 676 appearances, and will now join the coaching staff.

His retirement came after he helped the club win a record 19th league title, the 10th of his career, and his last game was Saturday's Champions League final loss to Barcelona.

"This was not a decision I've taken lightly but I feel now is the right time for me to stop playing," he said.

The famously low key Scholes added: "I am not a man of many words but I can honestly say that playing football is all I have ever wanted to do and to have had such a long and successful career at Manchester United has been a real honour.

"To have been part of the team that helped the club reach that 19th title is a great privilege."

United manager Sir Alex Ferguson paid tribute to Scholes and called him "a truly unbelievable player".

The Scot stated: "Paul has always been inspirational to players of all ages and we know that will continue in his new role."

Scholes was held in high esteem by his fellow professionals - in 2009, former world player of the year Zinedine Zidane said he was "the complete midfielder" and "my toughest opponent".

The France international added: "Scholes is undoubtedly the greatest of his generation."

PAUL SCHOLES CAREER STATISTICS:

  • 676 Man Utd appearances, 150 goals
  • 66 England caps, 14 goals
  • Premier League winner: 1996, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011
  • FA Cup: 1996, 1999, 2004
  • Champions League: 2008
  • League Cup: 2009, 2010
  • PFA Team of the Year: 2003, 2007
  • 18th highest scorer in Premier League history (102 goals)
  • 4th most booked player in Premier League history (87 times)

That same year, United legend Sir Bobby Charlton also had warm words to say about the one-club man.

He commented: "Many great players have worn the shirt of Manchester United - players I worshipped, then lost with my youth in Munich. Players like Denis Law and George Best, who I enjoyed so much as team-mates and now, finally, players I have watched closely in the Ferguson era - and in so many ways Scholes is my favourite."

Meanwhile, United team-mate Rio Ferdinand said on Twitter that Scholes had gone "from a scoring midfielder to a dictator of the game" and "changed his game while still at top of the game".

Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere described Scholes on the same social networking site as "top class" and "a great role model for any young English midfielder".

Scholes was part of United's Class of 92, which also produced David Beckham, Nicky Butt and Gary Neville - another player who announced his retirement this season.

Xavi once described Scholes as "a reference" - an indication of the respect in which the 36-year-old was held around the world

Phil McNulty

United chief executive David Gill said Scholes had "established himself as one of the greatest players to ever wear the United shirt".

In addition to winning 10 Premier League titles, Scholes was a member of the team that triumphed in the 2008 Champions League final against Chelsea but was suspended for the 1999 final win over Bayern Munich.

He also won 66 England caps before retiring from international football following the Euro 2004 tournament, aged only 29.

Current England manager Fabio Capello tried to tempt him to change his mind before the 2010 World Cup.

Scholes said he would have considered a U-turn but was not given enough time to make up his mind.

Scholes scores stunner in 1998 World Cup