Feared by the blues and loved by the reds. It’s been 26 years on that left wing, but still he continually treads.
Every once in a while, there comes a certain someone who makes you reflect back anxiously on your stereotypes, who changes the way you think about things, who inspires you towards a better tomorrow, who abolishes the archaic standards and establishes the new ones.
“Ryan makes you believe there is a football God” – Ron Atkinson
Born in 1973 in the city of Cardiff, Ryan Joseph Giggs turned out to be that certain someone for football fans. Right from the beginning he showed the makings of something special. He was a born sportsperson, you could tell at first sight. Giggs was hence always in the born-to-play-ball category. Unlike his father though, who was a rugby player himself, he chose the rounder ball.
Ryan Giggs started playing football at a very early age. He was the captain of his school team. That’s when his footballing prowess came into imminence. He almost single-handedly won his side the games which helped him rise to early stardom. His lean stature and “cocker-spaniel”-esque agility was always catching attention. Many clubs started the monitoring, but it was Manchester City, yes City, who snapped him away at a tender age of 11. United too were interested in him, but they failed to make the move.
“Eric Cantona is a great player, but he’s not as good as Ryan Giggs” – Johann Cryuff
But, Sir Alex Ferguson was not willing to give up and when two-and-half years later the opportunity beckoned, he nicked it. On his 14th birthday, Ryan Giggs was greeted by Sir Alex Ferguson on his doorstep. His present? A two-year contract. Giggs was not stupid enough to turn it down. A fitting prelude to the greatest love affair that has ever been. Start of something beautiful.
As things progressed, the inevitability about Giggs’ ability became ocular. He almost immediately caught everybody’s eye at United. The first team players stayed beyond training hours to see him play for the U-15s. The way he moved was enchanting for some. He’d nutmeg one and swivel pass another, catching the oppositions red-faced more often than not. He was the brand of football everyone loved. Very George Best. Very Manchester United.
“They (United) have so many talented young players and can only get better and better. Giggs is truly world class” – Zinedine Zidane
Giggs was the name on every United-faithful’s lips. And hence on his 17th birthday in 1990, he was offered a full-time professional contract to play for Manchester United that has been renewed for 23 years without a glitch. Since that day, he’s made 954 appearances scoring 168 goals for United. He leads the all-time appearances list and also holds the record of scoring in every single Premier League season.
Being Britain’s most decorated athlete, he’s won 13 Premier Leagues, 4 FA Cups, 4 League Cups and and 2 UEFA Champions Leagues in his 23 year old professional career for Manchester United. Apart from being a great technician of the game, he also boasts an extraordinary disciplinary record. He has never been sent-off in a single game played in United’s colours, something that speaks volumes about the man’s temperament.
“I have cried twice in my life watching a football player. The first one was Maradona and the second was Ryan Giggs.” – Alessandro Del Piero
One can only dream of achieving as much as Ryan Giggs in one life. I am not a big believer of the theory of “role models”, but even if I had one, Ryan Giggs would qualify. When you add loyalty in a pot brimming with talent, that’s when you create a legend. Ryan Giggs certainly is one. The longevity of his career is completely one-off and arguably, won’t ever be matched. He turns 40 on Friday, but he still has that child-like desire.
Such is his perspicacity to play the game, he rarely seems to give up. So, even if you see him playing next summer, don’t sweat. Because age, it’s just another number.