“I can remember it clearly,” says Scholes, recalling the day he first realised something was wrong. “We were playing at Birmingham and in the last 10 minutes I could see a ball coming towards me. Then it suddenly felt like there were three or four balls coming towards me. I thought I just had a migraine. But I went to see a specialist when it still hadn’t gone and they found the problem after that.
“It was worrying, not just as a footballer but also a person with a family. They thought it was quite serious at first and were asking me for my family’s medical history, talking about whether there was a history of bleeding or heart disease, stuff like that. Then they diagnosed what the problem was and there was a small chance, I believe, it could have ended my career. But I never thought like that. I always thought I would be back and playing. There’s still a little bit of blurring but I am totally used to it now.”
The specialists diagnosed a blocked vein that was causing bleeding behind his right eye and Scholes was ordered to take a complete rest from physical activity for six months. He still needs regular check-ups but, refreshed, he is playing as well as he ever has done, his fellow professionals voting him third behind his team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo and Didier Drogba for Player of the Year.