|Ryan Giggs (third from left) in the thick of things during Manchester United’s Champions League match against Bayer Leverkusen, in Leverkusen, on Wednesday
London: 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 turns 40, he has prepared for the weekend the same way he has for most of his life.
The mercurial Welshman has outlasted 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.
“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.
“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!”
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 Giggs is still playing because of the talent he has and how driven he still is. How he’s looked after himself over the years really is incredible,” Beckham, who ended his career last season, said.
“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, 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.
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.
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.
Gary Neville said: “What Ryan is doing now is absolutely incredible. If you didn’t know he was Ryan Giggs, you didn't know his age and you just watched the game [against Leverkusen], you could argue he was 25.
“It was staggering to watch. I felt he was the best player on the pitch. He was the difference for United from what was a difficult game for them against Cardiff on Sunday to what was a really refreshing performance [against Leverkusen], where they passed the ball forwards through midfield.
“You think of those types of things in the 50s and 60s when you hear of players like Stanley Matthew playing into their 40 and 50s, but you would never think it would happen in the modern game. You think maybe a defender or goalkeeper could play on, but a winger, who has played from the age of 16, 17 to the age of 40 and has adapted his game and is still looking like he can beat a player, it is brilliant.”
Bruce was one of United’s senior men when the teenage Giggs broke through and he has marvelled at the longevity his former team-mate has managed at the very highest level of club football.