Paul Scholes has revealed he was left devastated when his best friend Nicky Butt left Manchester United in 2004.
The duo were part of United’s fabled Class of 92 along with the Neville brothers, David Beckham and Ryan Giggs.
After the group were a key part of United’s success from the mid-90s to the early 2000s, Sir Alex Ferguson opted to break his team up by selling the likes of Beckham, Butt and Phil Neville along with captain Roy Keane.
Scholes, however, stayed at Old Trafford and became a one-club man.
That does not mean the departures of teammates did not hurt him, however, and he admitted to being devastated when Butt left.
“It was all part of football. When you start out with those five or six lads you hope that you’ll be there for the next 20 years,” Scholes told DAZN.
“Unfortunately it doesn’t always work out that way. You lose people along the way. Nicky went and Nicky was my best mate – I’d grown up with him since I was 12 or 13. You’re devastated, I really was devastated.”
Yet Scholes paid tribute to Ferguson’s ability to find quality replacements for the key first-team players that he opted to sell.
Scholes feels it created a continuation of talent during Ferguson’s time in charge at Old Trafford despite seeing some high-quality players leave.
“Phil Neville went, Roy Keane went, some really big characters,” Scholes said. “Look players have to go they might come to a certain age where their legs weren’t quite what they were.
“The manager knew how to get the best out of those players, whether they’d play 20 games a season but he always knew when the time was right for them to go.
“Sometimes the player didn’t always agree with that but that’s what it was all about; changing teams and then the excitement of bringing players in.
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United entered the international break by winning what was arguably their most important match of the season at Everton on Saturday.
The under-pressure Reds came from behind to beat the Toffees thanks to Bruno Fernandes’ double and Edinson Cavani’s first goal for United.
United have a two-week break with many of their stars heading off on international duty – we’ll be keeping tabs on how they all perform, and on preparations for their next Premier League match against West Brom.
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“You mention players there like Teddy Sheringham, Andy Cole, Dwight Yorke, such brilliant attacking players and Jaap Stam – what a top centre-half he was.
“He had a system and he just tried to replace the top players he had with other top players who were similar in that position. That’s why it was such a constant continuation of a being a top team.”