Darren Fletcher is convinced a love of the quiet life has prevented Paul Scholes gaining the worldwide recognition his talents deserve.
Scholes breathed new life into Manchester United's title challenge at the weekend, scoring a last-gasp header which allowed Sir Alex Ferguson's men to close the gap on league leaders Chelsea to a single point.
The goal came just 24 hours after the 35-year-old agreed a new one-year contract at Old Trafford, which Ferguson feels is fully merited given Scholes' performances in the latter half of the campaign.
No-one at United needs any convincing about Scholes' talent, but despite picking up nine Premier League titles, the former England midfielder has never won any prestigious individual awards and his name was again absent when the PFA revealed their four-man shortlist last week.
Fletcher feels the only explanation is the devotion Scholes applies to shunning the limelight.
He is often changed and out of the dressing room before his team-mates have headed for the shower, while in post-match mixed zones he now just laughs as he heads through without checking his stride.
"We won't ever see another one like Paul Scholes. He is a legend and a real benchmark," Scotland skipper Fletcher said.
"He is not interested in the modern day footballer's life off the pitch, but he is a world-class player on it.
"He has probably never really got the true recognition he deserved outside of Manchester United because he never did the media. He didn't do interviews and never put himself out for things like that.
"I cannot believe he has never been nominated for World, European or domestic individual honours because in his prime he was scoring 20 goals a season from midfield.
"It is astonishing he has never won a personal award but given the choice of winning something and then having to get up and do the speech, I think he would rather not have won them."
Scholes now operates in a far more withdrawn role than he used to occupy in his prime and, in Gary Neville's words, "passed Manchester City to death" on Saturday.
His overall performance belied the doubts that existed in his mind at the turn of the year about his contribution to the Red Devils' cause and whether he did have a future beyond the end of this season.
Fletcher never thought it was a question that required an answer.
"It is crazy to suggest that he shouldn't have got another contract," he said. "On Saturday he was the best player on the park. Even before his goal he was controlling it at his tempo.
"He slowed it down when it was needed. He was always available and quickened it up when it was called for. He was an inspiration playing like that.
"All the players here want him at United next year, together with Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville he remains a great inspiration to us all.
"Proper fans who know the game realise that maybe he doesn't go box-to-box these days for 90 minutes, but nobody expects that. We have others who can do the work for him.
"Now he is more selective with his runs and there is still nobody better at it.
"If I can get anywhere near to that when I am 35 then I will be very happy. Even now I would be happy to get to that level."Reuse content