Scharner’s back and we love it - Boyce

Wigan Athletic v Southampton - Paul Scharner
Wigan Athletic v Southampton - Paul Scharner

AS Wigan Athletic’s longest-serving outfield player, Emmerson Boyce has seen plenty of lads come in and go out during his seven years with Latics.

He’s seen many come, he’s seen many go.

But when Paul Scharner returned to Wigan last week on loan for the rest of the season – two-and-a-half years after leaving – it’s fair to say it caused a bigger ripple than usual.

“It was great to see him back – and we all have fond memories of Scharns both as a player and as a person,” Boyce told the Observer.

“He’s a good footballer, great in the air, he reads the game well and is quite quick.

“And as long as his head’s right he’ll be a massive asset for us.

“I think the manager has done fantastic to get him back here – he’ll have a point to prove, to show he can still do it in the Premier League.

“It’s a great move for all parties.”

The 32-year-old’s understated return – rocking up in the most magnificent Austrian fur coat – was typically Scharner.

“Scharns hasn’t changed from the moment he left to the moment he walked back in with that amazing coat on,” Boyce laughed.

“Mike Pollitt was the first one on the spot and he couldn’t wait to get the jacket on. It wasn’t really for me.

“His dress sense has always left a bit to be desired, but that’s just him. It wouldn’t be him if he wasn’t like that.

“From the minute I first walked through the door after joining Wigan, everyone was talking about this bloke Scharner.

“He’s one of those guys who you just have to take as they are – you can’t read too much into him, or take him too seriously.

“He’s different, put it that way. He’s completely different to anyone you’ll ever meet off the field.

“But on the field you can’t say a bad word about him, because he is a tremendous footballer and it was a massive coup for us to get him back.

“You can never have too many good or experienced players in your squad, and he ticks every box as far as I’m concerned.

It’s over two-and-a-half years since Scharner had the word “Thanx” spray-painted on the back of his head, and exited stage left.

During his time with Latics, Scharner broke the club record for number of Premier League appearances – a record taken last year by Boyce – as well as becoming a true fan favourite.

Two years at West Brom followed – including a goal at the DW for the Baggies last term – before a switch to Hamburg in the Bundesliga last summer.

Despite moving on, Scharner never lost his affection for the town and club that took him to their heart.

Which is why, when Roberto Martinez sent out an SOS earlier this week, he was on the first available plane.

“It’s great to be back in Wigan – it’s a little bit like coming home,” he acknowledged.

“I’ve only been away for two-and-a-half years but so much has changed.

“You only need to look at the changing rooms at the training ground to see the progress the club is making.

“The staff are still here, though, and most of the playing squad is the same, so it has been quite easy to settle back in.”

Scharner admits his brief for the next four months is simple.

“The gaffer told me he wanted me to come and help them out of the situation they found themselves in,” he revealed.

“He was looking for someone to come in to the defence and take them closer to a clean sheet.

“That’s my job – to help the team get clean sheets and to help them survive.

“It’s a big opportunity for me, and I aim to take full advantage of it. The loan agreement is for the rest of the season, and hopefully it works out for all parties.

“I look back to the end of last season, and Wigan were the best team in the Premier League for the last nine games. That kind of form is something we have to reproduce if we are to get ourselves out of trouble.”

It’s true that most new capture the imagination of a club’s supporters, but the return of Scharner has already created a special buzz among the faithful.

And it’s a feeling that is more than reciprocated by the player himself – even though there will be no special hairstyles on the way.

“I stopped dyeing my hair when I reached 30,” he smiled.

“I already have a nice grey tint in there so I want to make the most of my natural colour when I can.

“But I will make sure I get my message out to the fans in another way because I have always had a great relationship with them.

“They always supported me during my time here, and even when I left the club they have sent me kind messages and have never forgotten me.

“The overwhelming majority of messages I have received on Facebook and Twitter have been very positive, and it’s up to me now to repay that faith and support.

“I was here for four-and-a-half years and it is still in my heart.

“This is the only football club I can look back on and say: This is my home.

“We went our separate ways in 2010 but we find ourselves back together now and I couldn’t be happier.”

Scharner went straight in at the deep end by making his second ‘debut’ against Southampton last weekend, ironically after Boyce picked up a hamstring problem at Stoke last Tuesday.

And despite not having played much for Hamburg this term, he is keen to put his hand up for the team between now and the end of the season in May.

“Of course it is the manager’s decision, but I am ready to play, whenever,” he added.

We can’t conclude the interview without mention of the jacket, which has already hit the national headlines.

“I had this jacket in my wardrobe for seven years, and I wondered why I was keeping it,” he explains.

“Then I knew I coming back to Wigan, and instantly I knew why I had kept it. This was the reason.”