Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed he talked midfield maestro Paul Scholes out of retiring.
Scholes has signed a one-year contract extension with Manchester United after initially expressing doubts over whether to continue with his career, which could yet yield him a 10th Premier League title winners medal next week.
Recent performances suggest it was the correct move, with Scholes being as influential as any United player in the Red Devils taking Chelsea to the last day of the season to clinch the championship.
His last-gasp matchwinner at Manchester City was a throwback to Scholes' halcyon days.
And, although Ferguson admitted he needed to twist the 35-year-old's arm, he was not willing to let such ability slip through his fingers.
"I did speak to him," Ferguson told United's official magazine Inside United.
"He'd intimated that he may retire at the end of the season.
"I said, 'I'll decide when you retire.....look, Paul, you can play there's no question of that. Your ability's there, there's no deterioration in your actual play'.
"When you get to his age, and the same goes for Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville, there's a deterioration in the physical aspect of it. That's natural. We all face that.
"But in terms of his ability, there's no deterioration whatsoever.
"In fact, Paul's every bit as good, if not even better, because the experience he's added to the ability he's got means he's a big asset to us - as he was against City. He helped to control the match."
Ferguson believes United are benefiting from Scholes' decision to focus his energy purely on club matters.
Never the greatest traveller, Scholes quit the England scene following Euro 2004 even though he had yet to reach his 30th birthday.
Fabio Capello never made any attempt to change the midfielder's mind, knowing it was futile.
Steve McClaren tried more than once, but Ferguson never felt that was likely either, knowing it was not a decision Scholes would ever have cause to regret, even if England win the World Cup this summer.
"I don't think Paul's the type the feel bitter about that or feel he'd lost something in his life," said Ferguson.
"He made his decision based on his family and I think it helped him for the initial couple of years after he retired from the international scene.
"But he had a great career at that level. He should have no recriminations because it's allowed him to move his career on here to the extent that we've given him a new contract.
"Age always comes into it and Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville and Paul Scholes are not going to last forever.
"But they're defying everyone at the moment in terms of their durability and enthusiasm to play. How they've looked after themselves has been critical and a monumental part of why they're still here."
Yet, while the international days of Scholes, and Giggs, are behind them, Ferguson still feels Neville could enjoy a glorious autumn to his career in South Africa this summer.
"He has got a great chance," said Ferguson.
"Fabio has not got a really settled right back.
"Wes Brown has been injured for a while and you have got Glen Johnson at Liverpool but Gary Neville's experience, as he showed in the derby against Craig Bellamy makes him the top man at the moment. His form has been fantastic."Reuse content