Paul Scholes has revealed he realised he had to retire during a game against Tottenham when Mousa Dembele and Gareth Bale ran him ragged.
The Manchester United legend initially called time on his illustrious playing career at the end of the 2010/11 Premier League season after winning the title for the 10th time.
Six months later, though, with the club in the middle of an injury crisis, Scholes reversed his decision and made his comeback, going on to play for another 18 months.
The 44-year-old recounted the story of how it came about on BT Sport.
“I went to Joycey (reserve team manager at the time Warren Joyce) and said ‘look I’m thinking of coming back’,” he said.
“I spoke to Gary Neville and Phil Neville to see what they thought about it. Gary especially encouraged me to go and see Mick Phelan, who was the assistant.
“I was nervous about doing it because of what they might say. What if he had said no?
“I had made my mind up and if he said no, I would have gone on to play for somebody else.
“I was coming back whatever happened. Obviously I didn’t want to play for another team as I wanted to play for United.
“I went to see Mick and he thought it was a great idea,” he explained, revealing he still had to convince the main man at Old Trafford.
“The day after, still nervous, I said [to Sir Alex Ferguson] I think I’m coming back to play and straight away he said ‘great, let me ring [chief executive] David Gill so we can sort your contract out.’”
Scholes made his comeback in a 3-2 win over rivals Manchester City in the FA Cup and also revealed how he had to go to the local sports shop to pick up a new pair of boots for the match.
He made 17 appearances that season as United lost out to City for the league title on the final day of the season.
The midfielder carried on for another season but quickly regretted his decision.
“I really wish I had stopped then,” Scholes added.
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“That was enough really because we got to the next season and the manager gave me another year but when I say I was gone the first time, I was definitely gone this time.
“I remember playing a game against Tottenham at home, it was only the third or fourth game of the season, and I think we got beat at home 3-2.
“I played alright in possession but I remember [Mousa] Dembele just cruising past me, Gareth Bale…. I know they cruise past people but I was just watching and thinking ‘I can’t do this anymore’.
Scholes, mindful of the perception of hanging up his boots early again, decided to simply get through the campaign and help where he could.
“I wanted to retire early again that season but I just thought it would look a bit stupid, a bit embarrassing.”
That season still ended in silverware for Scholes and United as he won his 11th and final Premier League winners medal.