MANCHESTER, England — Paul Scholes came out of retirement on Sunday to help alleviate Manchester United's injury crisis, making an immediate return to the bench for the FA Cup derby at Manchester City.
Scholes retired after last season following 676 appearances for United over 17 years, but remained on the Old Trafford staff as a coach and recently told manager Alex Ferguson that he wanted to reverse his decision to quit playing.
The move comes immediately after United lost two consecutive matches to leave the defending champions three points behind neighbor City in the Premier League title race, having already been knocked out of the Champions League at the group stage.
"I've been pretty clear since I stopped playing that I miss it," Scholes said Sunday ahead of United's cup match at City. "I'm delighted the manager feels I can still make a contribution to the team and I'm looking forward to playing my part in trying to bring more success to this great club."
The former England midfielder won 10 Premier League titles — most recently in May — with United and scored 150 goals. His last appearance for the northwest club was as a late substitute in the 3-1 defeat by Barcelona in the Champions League final at Wembley in May.
Ferguson now has Scholes back among his midfield options, with Darren Fletcher out for the indefinite future with a bowel disease and Tom Cleverley also sidelined.
"It's fantastic that Paul has made this decision," Ferguson said. "It's always sad to see great players end their careers, but especially so when they do it early. But he has kept himself in great shape and I always felt that he had another season in him. It's terrific to have him back."
Starting out as a deep-lying forward, Scholes eventually dropped back into central midfield where his touch, technique and vision could be more effectively utilized. He never lost his eye for goal, though, and turned his late runs into the penalty box into an art form, while also being a threat with his fierce shots from distance.
Scholes was part of a batch of young talent to burst into United's first team during the early 1990s, which also included David Beckham.
The 36-year-old Beckham was due to be at Sunday's match as a fan while taking a break during the Major League Soccer offseason.