x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Ryan Giggs is still going strong for Manchester United

The ageless winger claims his 12th championship medal in Man United's 19th title.

Manchester United's Ryan Giggs, right, has won more titles than any player in English football. Tim Hales / AP Photo
Manchester United's Ryan Giggs, right, has won more titles than any player in English football. Tim Hales / AP Photo

Sir Alex Ferguson recently described Ryan Giggs as "an incredible human being". More than two decades have elapsed since Giggs made his debut in a defeat to Everton at Old Trafford in March 1991.

Twenty years in which he has played a club record 874 times for Manchester United, scoring 159 goals. Most United fans considered Sir Bobby Charlton's 759 game appearances record untouchable, but Giggs, 37, has shattered it and he is still going strong.

The Welsh-Mancunian's energetic displays defy the years and he still remains key to Manchester United's success.

Giggs yesterday celebrated winning his 12th league title with United. No footballer in the history of the English game has come close to such accomplishments.

"I've been fortunate to have a lot of success," he said earlier this season, "but I'm greedy and it's therefore the disappointments which you think about more and more. There have been more highs than lows, but the lows stay with you and drive you on."

Giggs attributes his longevity to enjoying his job, living well, yoga and a desire to win more. "I still enjoy playing every week and hope I can carry on for a while yet," he said.

He is also a role model to every younger player at Old Trafford - namely every other player, giving new meaning to the expression "senior pro".

Giggs now has a fourth Champions League final to look forward to in his 20th European campaign. The disappointment of losing to Barcelona in Rome two years ago still cuts deep.

"It was perhaps the most disappointing night of my life," Giggs told the United Review. "And even though Barcelona are a top team we made them look a lot better. We just didn't turn up and I'm still bamboozled as to why."

Elimination by Bayern Munich last season has driven him on this term. "It was really difficult [to watch the final last year], especially because we'd been involved in the match the previous two years," he said. "And the manner in which we went out last season was galling. The first 45 minutes against Bayern Munich at Old Trafford was probably the best football we played all season, so to go out at the end of the game was devastating. But that's European football."

From the outset Giggs was clear about his objective.

"We're aiming to win it," he said. "It's never easy; it's the toughest competition to win. But we've done well now on a consistent basis for six or seven years and we've got the ability to do the same again this term. We've got the players, we've got the know-how … it comes down to playing well and having a little bit of luck."

He scoffs at the notion that playing at London's Wembley Stadium will be a home advantage to United. "To be honest, it doesn't make any difference to me. It seems like every year there's a bit of history tied to the venue hosting the final or a reason to win the trophy. I remember in 2002 all the talk was about the manager potentially winning the trophy at Hampden Park.

"In 2008 it was 50 years since [the] Munich [Air Disaster] … The truth is, it's always special to win the European Cup, no matter what the circumstances."

Giggs has two weeks to savour his latest title medal before yet more glory beckons with his chance to win a third European Cup.

 

sports@thenational.ae