LONDON (Reuters) - Ryan Giggs was the first graduate of the so-called ‘Class of ‘92’ to make his mark at Manchester United and on the day he turned 40 he was preparing for the weekend the same way he has for most of his life.
The mercurial Welshman has out-lasted David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt and Gary and Phil Neville, who came off the same United academy conveyor belt, and it is not beyond credibility that he could rack up 1,000 games for the club.
United’s record appearance maker was one of the side’s best players in the 5-0 Champions League hammering of Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday, his 953rd match for the club, and he will be in the squad for Sunday’s trip to Tottenham Hotspur.
With 13 Premier league titles, four FA Cups, two Champions Leagues, four League Cups and, surprisingly only one PFA Player of the Year award, Giggs has achieved everything possible in his club career, but still appears hungry for more.
“I’m lucky that I have been at one club, where I am surrounded by good players and a good manager,” Giggs said in an interview with the BBC that will be screened on Saturday.
“I still want to do well in every game, want to win trophies and my focus needs to be on that. I look after myself and try to train every day in order to make myself available for selection.
“I enjoy it as much as I can and, of course, try to contribute to the team. I don’t know what the younger lads think of me. When I was 17 and 18, I thought 31 was ancient. And here I am at 40!”
Having spent the first half of his career rampaging up the left wing, Giggs has evolved into the complete midfielder and with United lacking in the creativity department, still offers the kind of guile and intelligence that money cannot buy.
Giggs was magnificent against Leverkusen and team mate Wayne Rooney could not praise him highly enough.
“Their centre half was asking how is he still playing at that age,” Rooney said.
“His composure on the ball is fantastic. Ryan has done it for years and I’ve run out of things to say about him. I don’t know how he is still doing it.”
Beckham, 38, who has been busy promoting the ‘Class of ‘92’ film that will be hitting the big screen in December and will chronicle the rise of United’s golden generation, said Giggs “makes him feel old”.
“I’m not surprised he’s still playing because of the talent he is and how driven he still is and how he’s looked after himself over the years really is incredible,” Beckham, who ended his career last season, said in an interview on the BBC.
“His performance the other night in the Champions League was amazing but it doesn’t surprise me. It’s an incredible achievement. I’m proud of what he’s achieved.”
Beckham said Giggs’ breakthrough into the first team paved the way for his own career to take off.
“He was someone we looked up to and aspired to, he gave the other ones in the youth team hope.”
Giggs, set to be the seventh player to appear in the Premier League past the age of 40, is out of contract at the end of the season and manager David Moyes said there would be “no quick decision” on whether he would get an extension.
“To be playing so well at his age is terrific and he is a great example to the younger players,” Moyes said.
“When you get to this stage, you always make a decision at the end of the season. There will be no quick decision.”
Editing by John O'Brien/Alan Baldwin