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Mike Collett on 20 years of Ryan Giggs
The world, and English soccer, was a very different place 20 years ago, but one thing has remained unchanged — Ryan Giggs is still playing for Manchester United and still in the hunt for trophies.
Wednesday marks the 20th anniversary of the day the skinny 17-year-old came on after 35 minutes of a match in the old First Division to replace the injured Denis Irwin for the first of what is now 863 appearances for the club.
His arrival went largely unremarked in the following days reports of United’s 2-0 defeat to Everton at Old Trafford.
It’s fair to say that few, if any, of the achievements and milestones he has reached since then have been similarly ignored.
But despite a squad packed to the rafters with players under the age of 25, United fans are hailing the evergreen talents of a 35-year-old left winger and eagerly anticipating the return of a reliable Dutch keeper three years his senior.
Are Bolton Wanderers so bad that not one of our Reuters Soccer Blog predictions panel thought they would win at Birmingham City?
Ye of little faith. Manager Gary Megson may not be very popular with the Bolton fans but his side will always fight. A 2-1 win at a promoted club wasn’t all that shocking.
Enter Ryan Giggs.
The veteran Welshman was introduced as a substitute for the often infuriating Nani after 57 minutes and took just five more to provide the pass from which Dimitar Berbatov broke the
Sports professionals are forever banging on about “taking the positives” from setbacks but for everyone connected with City, their performance and the whole occasion on Sunday showed that they really will be a force to be reckoned with over the next few months and years.
In Spain, you often hear players and coaches talking about “the sort of match that decides title races”. More often that not they’re talking about the tricky away game against awkward opposition rather than a high profile match against direct rivals.
Manchester United’s 2-0 win away to Middlesbrough on Saturday was just that sort of game, and just the sort of performance that will leave their rivals utterly deflated.
Manchester United’s Ryan Giggs was voted Player of the Year for the first time by the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) on Sunday.
Giggs has only made 12 Premier League starts this season, scoring a single goal, so I guess we really have to look at this award as recognition for his long years of service at United, for whom he’s made just shy of 800 appearances.
Ryan Giggs has probably never received the recognition he deserves for his contribution to Manchester United’s success over the last 15 years.
No other player has collected the full set of medals for all the silverware which has filled the Old Trafford trophy cabinet over that time. Yet several, including Eric Cantona, Roy Keane and Cristiano Ronaldo, have received the major individual awards which have eluded the man who has played more games for United than anyone else.
The hullabaloo surrounding the England cricket skipper has shown how different the role is in the two sports.
The likes of Paolo Maldini, Raul, Steven Gerrard and Paul Scholes might be handsomely paid by their clubs, but the fact they have spurned chances to get even richer elsewhere suggests they share at least some of the fans’ devotion to the colours they wear.
Inter Milan’s Patrick Vieira recognised this recently when talking about his former Juventus team mate Alessandro Del Piero.