Mike Coffey, a deputy head and English teacher at the midfielder's secondary school in Greater Manchester, played a pivotal part in Scholes' amazing journey from Middleton to Moscow.
Coffey, 56, a former part-time scout for United, told The Sun: "Paul was a very special talent even then. I remember the three things that struck me at our first school trial - he was ginger, his slight size and amazing ability.
"Being so small never fazed him, though. His football brain was so quick no one could ever kick him or intimidate him. It put him on another level to everyone else. I never saw any of the bigger lads whack him because he had the ability to anticipate tackles and ride challenges. And he still does.
"That strike against Barcelona on Tuesday night - he's always had the ability to hit the ball well, it's all about timing with him. I remember in his first year we reached the final of the Manchester Catholic Cup, a very prestigious local competition. We were getting beat and all the lads were down.
"But it just made Scholesy roll up his sleeves and try even harder. He hit the equaliser then scored the winner. Both were well executed, clean strikes. Funnily enough, Brian Kidd from United was at the game.
"He had come up to me before the match and asked if there were any United would like.
"I told him about Paul Scholes and two or three others, who were almost as good as him. Brian said to get him down but Paul took some persuading. He was very happy with the set up at Oldham.
"He genuinely loves the Latics and it wouldn't surprise me if he finishes his career there, just like Roy Keane did at Celtic.
"Anyway, I had to get him into my office to cajole him into going - I told him there would be better facilities and better coaches. The rest is history."