The moment this season changed for champions-elect Manchester United was when Paul Scholes told Sir Alex Ferguson: ‘I want to play again.’
United’s pass master had retired at the end of last season and was coaching the reserve team when he was bitten by the bug again.
He told Sir Alex: ‘I am missing it.’
It was music to the ears of Ferguson, whose team had just lost successive games to Blackburn and Newcastle.
The boss knew he had problems with an unconvincing midfield following the failure to sign a big-name replacement.
After shedding a little rust, the 37-year-old Scholes settled back into his old sweet passing routine and giving the side its mojo back.
Since Scholes came back, United have won 11 of the 12 Premier League games in which he has played.
In the other one, he came off the bench after 58 minutes to inspire United to a 3-3 draw at Chelsea after they had trailed 3-0.
I have not the slightest doubt that Scholes should be recalled to the England team for Euro 2012.
Ferguson will hate that idea. He wants to save the legs of his veteran playmaker and you can understand that.
But whoever takes over as England boss – still likely to be Harry Redknapp – would be mad not to ask the country’s classiest midfield operator to end his England exile.
And Scholes would have to be hugely tempted by the offer to play in one last major championship.
After all, it is not as if he has just had a long, hard season, having returned to action only in January.
So long as he is ‘looked after’ and not put through a boot camp-style regime, Scholes can be a key figure for England all over again.
He only quit the international scene in the first place because then-England boss Sven Goran Eriksson was asking him to play out of position on the left.
But we are talking here about a player who even Spain’s brilliant schemer Xavi rates one of the finest midfield men he has ever seen.
With Frank Lampard in decline, Steven Gerrard not ripping up trees at Liverpool and Jack Wilshere a risky selection after long-term injury, England can make Scholes the heartbeat of the team.
The biggest problem for the new manager will not be persuading Scholes himself, but Sir Alex.
But imagine if Ferguson was England manager and did not have an Old Trafford agenda.
Would he recall Scholes? Without question.