20 years, 12 Premier Leagues, 2 Champions Leagues and 4 FA Cups – Quite an impressive CV for a football club itself and yet, this is the trophy collection of only one man. One man who goes by the name, Ryan Joseph Giggs.
38 years old and still sending shivers down defenders’ spines, Ryan Giggs is the epitome of hardwork and loyalty(on the football field, it might be added). Deservedly voted the Best Player in the Premier League 20 Seasons Awards, Giggs is a leading example who proves time and again that age is no barrier in football, or for that matter, any sport.
Boasting a magnificent record of 163 goals and 909 appearances for Manchester United, Giggs was signed as a youngster by United, who just managed to grab him from under the nose of their noisy neighbours, City. He evolved from an Average Joe youth player to captain the famous Class of ’92 to an FA Youth Cup victory – by which time he’d already made 50 odd appearances for the senior team! The likes of Scholes, Beckham and the Neville twins also went on to become extraordinary footballers, but quite arguably, I would consider Ryan Giggs to have come the farthest.
Due to his omnipresence in the Premier League since its inception, Giggs has become one of those players without whom we would consider football to be incomplete. And just like wine, Giggs only seems to get better and better as he goes on.
Starting out as a left winger and undergoing the transformation into a central midfielder in his recent twilight years, Giggs has effectively been one of the best midfielders over the last 20 years despite the rise and fall of many a player. This man has been playing football for longer than the Premier League was around and is still going extremely strong. Even at 38 years of age, his immaculate vision, precise passing and the never ceasing desire to play and work for Man United are just some of the small droplets that make up the sea that is him. Since his debut, Ryan Giggs has played with 141 players at United since 1991 in the first team and has played against 112 different clubs.
Just one statistic is needed to prove his ubiquitousness in the United side – Ryan Giggs has scored or assisted 306 of all Manchester United’s 1348 Premier League goals, which is 22.7%. Contributing so many goals and assists, obviously many clubs offering a truckload of money would have arrived at his doorstep, which brings us to his most admirable quality – loyalty. In a time in which one-club players are becoming as rare as a Tim Howard goal, Giggs has stayed at his boyhood club when stars like Beckham, Ruud and Ronaldo, have all been lured by Real Madrid. In doing so, his faithfulness has not only been to United but the whole of English football.
Let’s put his consistency into simpler words: Ryan Giggs is 38 years old and still features in the starting XI of a side that lost on mere goal difference to this year’s Premier League champions. What other player can have this type of consistency and brilliance in their arsenal?
Not many of today’s football fans take this into account but before the clockwork pair of Xavi and Iniesta, there were 2 young lads who knew each other inside out – Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes. In a midfield partnership that flourished for United and had its own friendly rivalry, Giggs showed us that another great attribute of his, is his team spirit. He never mopes or groans when he’s left out of the starting lineup nor does he sulk on field if he asked for and was denied the ball. With regards to discipline, it is as clean as the shiny surface of the medals he has at home. 900+ appearances and only 1 red card.
Indeed, Ryan Giggs has been a beacon and a perfect footballing role model for many young players. One look at his play, behaviour and positioning on field, and you do not need the statistics to prove that he is one of the best ever footballers to have graced the surface of the Earth.
I salute you, Sir Ryan Giggs.