Paul Scholes, one of England's finest football players has revealed that his youngest son Aiden is autistic in his frank new autobiography, Scholes: My Story.
"The God-given ability to make a football do more or less what I want it to - though not always, obviously! - has given me a standard of living I could never have dreamed of had I left school to take up any other job accessible to me," The Sun quotes Scholes, as saying.
Advertisement"That said, I didn't even dwell on a future in the game. The truth is that I didn't agonise over anything as a kid, I just got on with life and, incredibly fortunately for me, it led me to Manchester United," he adds.
"But for all the benefits that professional football has brought me, none of them would mean a thing to me without my family, my wife Claire, my sons Arron and Aiden, and my daughter Alicia. We are happy where we live - on the edge of Saddleworth Moor to the north east of Manchester," Scholes said.
Talking about his kids, Scholes said: " My new generation of Red Devils are our three kids who keep Claire and me extremely busy, but we wouldn't have it any other way. I know I'm bound to say this about my own children, but we think they're brilliant and love them to bits."
"The oldest is Arron, who is now 12, his sister Alicia is ten and little Aiden is six. Aiden suffers from autism and has quite severe learning difficulties, so he can't take part in most sports at the moment, though he does absolutely love his swimming," the ex-football star said.
"He (Aiden) seems in his element in the pool, he's a real water baby and it's wonderful that he's got that to enjoy. Some children with autism are scared of water, but Aiden's the opposite. He'd be swimming every minute of the day if he could and on holiday we even feed him in the pool. We hope his condition improves, but we're not banking on it, just doing everything we can to make sure he has a happy life. He has a load of people trying to help him, speech and play therapists for example," said Scholes.
"Being away from my family was always the main reason I retired from internationals at the age of 29 in August 2004. I never liked being away from my home and my family for weeks on end. Whenever England went away for a tournament, I was OK for maybe the first three or four days, but after that I was unhappy because I was missing my wife and children. I made up my mind to retire on my own, then informed United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, who told me to go with how I felt," said Scholes.