Paul Scholes has been secretly taking charge of Stalybridge Celtic training for the last week, it has emerged.
The Manchester United legend, who is now coach of the Manchester United U19s, stepped in for a week after Jim Harvey left the Conference North club by mutual consent.
Scholes volunteered to help but asked Stalybridge not to leak the news to avoid a media circus.
The club have now appointed Keith Briggs and Andy Fearn as their new management team and Scholes has returned to Manchester United.
Scholes has ties with the club as his son is part of the club's youth set-up.
"He wanted it kept private and the lads, although they were really excited, were brilliant in not letting it out," revealed chairman Rob Gorski in a post on the club's website.
"I've seen a couple of sessions myself and they confirmed what everyone had already told me....i.e. that the spirit is fantastic, the intensity the highest ever.
"I asked Paul, in a private moment, to be honest with me about the lads and their ability and he was sincere when he said that he'd watched Oldham play a couple of times this season and he thought that many of our players were technically their equal.
"What we need now is to improve the work rate, cut out the silly errors and be clinical in front of goal and we're on our way.
"Paul is going back to work with the United U19s but he's gone back with great memories and everyone's really appreciated having him around.
"A truly class guy."
One of the team's players, Louis Smith, couldn't believe it when Scholes walked through the door.
"He’s a childhood idol so it was a great experience," said the 17-year-old.
"There’s no-one better to learn from. You learnt so much from him, even in just a week. To get an insight and help from someone like him is invaluable – you can’t put a price on that.
"And for him to come down and do it for free was a great gesture of goodwill."
Stalybridge currently lie 12th in the Conference North table.
Scholes, now 38, made over 700 appearances from Manchester United in an illustrious one-club career which he ended at the end of last season.
- Sports & Recreation
- Paul Scholes
- Manchester United
- Stalybridge Celtic