Friday, 13 February 2009

Giggs still enjoying the ride

It came as no surprise this week when Sir Alex Ferguson was fulsome in his praise of Ryan Giggs after the veteran penned a one-year extension to take him beyond his 20th year at Manchester United.

In a football age dominated by ego and crass headline makers, the Welshman remains the "true professional" first spotted by Sir Bobby Charlton at the club's Lyttleton Road training ground.

The World Cup winner recalled: "He had just been signed that morning from under the noses of Manchester City. I just thought 'that will do me'."

Giggs' appearance in the European Cup final last season took him past Charlton's club record of 758 games - and he could go on to break the 800 mark before the end of the current season.

One-club man Giggs may no longer be the first name down on Ferguson's team sheet but his value to the Premier League champions was illustrated last Sunday when he scored the only goal in the 1-0 win against in-form West Ham at Upton Park.

He may no longer be able to cut a swathe through opposition defences but his experience in a more withdrawn role stood out in the recent drubbing of fellow title-chasers Chelsea.

By the time he reaches the end of his new contract, Giggs will be 36 and the most decorated player in the club's history. But, unlike Paul Scholes, Gary Neville and Edwin van der Sar, who may all retire in 18 months' time, Giggs' unyielding desire for silverware shows no sign of abating.

It was fitting then that Ferguson, who snapped up Giggs from neighbours Manchester City, should lead the tributes.

The Scot said: "His lifestyle, the way he looks after himself, and his desire always to want to win is a credit to him and an inspiration to any young kid who wants to be a professional footballer.

"He is like a young boy in the way that he plays and, although he wants to be involved in every game, he understands that using his experience when it matters is a benefit to him and the team."

Giggs will reach 788 if he plays at Derby County on Sunday, in the fifth round of the FA Cup, a competition he has won four times.

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