Class of 92: Manchester United duo Paul Scholes and Gary Neville admit England failure still haunts them beyond retirement
Scholes also gives the current national squad 'no chance' of success at Brazil 2014 despite sitting alongside the current assistant coach Neville
Between them, they have 19 Premier League titles, six FA Cups, four League Cups and four Champions League successes – though many of those were shared – but there is still one thing that haunts former Manchester United team-mates Paul Scholes and Gary Neville. England.
In an interview with The Telegraph ahead of the release of the film 'Class of 92' which follows United's golden generation, the duo admitted that they are still irked by their international careers and the failure to succeed on the biggest stage of them all.
"People think I said my England career was 'a waste of time', but it has been taken out of context," says Neville. "I said my England career felt like a waste of time, because we didn't win anything, so that is the context of it. It wasn't me saying that England are a waste of time. We underachieved and we, playing for United, were used to winning.
"I think England, for me, you (Scholes), Butty (Nicky Butt), Phil (Neville) and Becks (David Beckham) will be our big frustration in the sense that we never won a tournament. 2004-2013 do you still think about that Portugal game [quarter-final in Lisbon] and what would have happened if Wazza (Wayne Rooney) hadn't had to go off?
"I don't think Portugal were that much better than us in the game," Neville claims. "Wazza was tearing Portugal apart with Michael Owen until he got injured."
Scholes then questioned whether England had actually got that close to success, or whether the crop of players available over the last 15 years or so - dubbed England's own 'Golden Generation' that never reached their potential - were actually not that good.
"Yeah, you do look at things like that and wonder if it would have been any different, but you just don't know," says Scholes. "We never got as close as we should have done. But saying that, maybe we just weren't good enough.
"1996, I wasn't involved, but that was the biggest chance. The chances we had against Germany in the semi-final, somebody (Darren Anderton) hit the post. That was the closest and England should have won it because, had we beaten Germany, you would have played the Czech Republic in the final. Imagine playing the Czech Republic at Wembley in a major final? It would be 'happy days' wouldn't it? -
Regardless, England have another chance for claim the international silverware that the nation craves having qualified for next summer’s World Cup in Brazil. Not according to Scholes though, who claims the current team under the guidance of Roy Hodgson and assistant coach Neville has "no chance".
"Gary can't really say we have no chance, but I’ll say it if you want," Scholes proclaimed. "It will be very difficult to win. I know we have some decent players to go with Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney, but as a team, are they going to be good enough when you think about it? You will have to get past Brazil, Argentina, Chile, who have just come onto the scene, Spain, Italy, Germany.
“I always get the impression that, whenever England come up against a big nation like those, it is usually a signal that we are going to go out. They’re OK against the Polands and Ukraines – England will beat them all day long – but as soon as a top team comes along? Well... ”
“You’ve just basically poured cold water over our chances in the World Cup!” Neville interrupted.
Scholes argued his point further, asking: “But as an England coach, do you honestly think we will beat one of those teams if we come up against them?”
“I don’t think anybody in the England set-up – fans, coaches, players or management – are saying we are going to go Brazil and win it" admits Neville.
Let's hope that there is at least a sense of optimism when the tournament comes around in June next year.
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