Paul Scholes has revealed he was “devastated” when “best mate” Nicky Butt left Manchester United in 2004.
The pair were pals since the age of 12 and had come through the ranks at Old Trafford.
They were part of the ‘class of 92’ along with David Beckham, Ryan Giggs and Gary and Phil Neville.
From winning the FA Youth Cup win in 1992 to securing the coveted Treble in the 1998/99 season the ‘class of 92’ were hugely successful.
They won a combined 120 trophies at United and became trusted by Sir Alex Ferguson.
But Fergie began to break up the side post-millenium with Beckham heading for Real Madrid in 2003.
Midfielder Butt moved to Newcastle 12 months later, before Phil Neville and United captain Roy Keane moved on.
Scholes never left and became a one-club man, but it was the departure of Butt that hit the 46-year-old hardest.
“It was all part of football. When you start out with those five or six lads you hope that you’ll be there for the next 20 years,” Scholes told DAZN.
“Unfortunately it doesn’t always work out that way. You lose people along the way. Nicky went and Nicky was my best mate – I’d grown up with him since I was 12 or 13. You’re devastated, I really was devastated.
“Phil Neville went, Roy Keane went, some really big characters,” Scholes added. “Look players have to go they might come to a certain age where their legs weren’t quite what they were.
“The manager knew how to get the best out of those players, whether they’d play 20 games a season but he always knew when the time was right for them to go.
“Sometimes the player didn’t always agree with that but that’s what it was all about; changing teams and then the excitement of bringing players in.
“You mention players there like Teddy [Sheringham], [Andy] Coley, [Dwight] Yorkey such brilliant attacking players and [Jaap] Stam – what a top centre half he was.
“He had a system and he just tried to replace the top players he had with other top players who were similar in that position. That’s why it was such a constant continuation of a being a top team.”