Paul Scholes has accused certain "very selfish" England players of putting their personal ambitions ahead of what is best for the national team. The Manchester United striker says some of them use that stage to play for a transfer to a bigger club, which wasone of the reasons why he became disenchanted with international football.
Scholes gave up playing for England after Euro 2004, his fourth major tournament, at which they failed to progress beyond the quarter-final. Now retired at the age of 36 and about to take up a coaching role with Manchester United in September, he won 66 caps, starting in 1997 under Glenn Hoddle.
"I always felt when I first started with England that players – especially players at clubs like your Aston Villas – try to use England as a way to get to a top club," he said. "You feel, are they there for the right reason?
"I think they are very selfish people. They are all there to get their bit of glory, their bit of headlines, to think 'I will get a move from this'. I think that is the biggest problem with English players.
"It was a frustration for us United lads. When there is a simple pass of 10 yards, they might try and smack it 80 yards. They will do things to try and get themselves noticed.
"If you look at the Spain team now, they all seem to play for each other. There isn't one of them who would try to do something in a game that doesn't suit the team. And that could happen over here." Revered by leading Spanish players in particular as one of the most technically gifted Englishmen of his generation, Scholes claims he is far from alone, but believes it is "laughable" to make England favourites whenever a World Cup or European Championship comes around.
"If you look through our teams, there are loads of technically brilliant players but for some reason when we go on to the international scene, we don't look like that," he said.
"We're the favourites every time and we probably will be next time. I think it is quite laughable. It is just the mentality of English people, we think we are going to win everything."
Six years after he gave up on England, Scholes was suddenly asked last summer if he would go to the World Cup, but he clearly has few regrets about saying no.
"I think under Hoddle and Sven [Goran Eriksson] you knew the way you were playing," he says. "But I am thinking how England play now and I don't really know. "
Scholes is currently taking his coaching badges and after his testimonial next month will sit down with Sir Alex Ferguson and discuss his role. "I probably just want to settle into the coaching first," he said. "Whether in two years I've got enough experience and feel like I want to go into management, then maybe."
Paul Scholes' testimonial against New York Cosmos is at Old Trafford on 5 August. Tickets: 0161 868 8000Reuse content