Ryan Giggs, OBE – Manchester United’s Superstar

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RYAN GIGGS, who was persuaded to keep faith with his ageing limbs by manager Sir Alex Ferguson, is still going strong… and some say he’s even getting stronger with age.

The Manchester United star is now slowly but surely heading towards the remarkable milestone of 1,000 competitive appearances for club and country.

Last week at Old Trafford, Giggs, now aged 38, is hoping to make his 900th appearance for the Reds against Ajax in the Europa League.

If he doesn’t play, then surely he will reach that figure in the Premiership game against Norwich City at Carrow Road.

And if you add to his tally 64 senior games for Wales, his one outing for the England U16 side, and also his three Welsh Under-18 and two Under-21 international caps to his tally, you will see that the legend of Old Trafford Giggs in fact, move up to 970 career games – so 1,000 is genuinely within reach.

And oh, he’s also played in 45 ‘other’ games (friendles etc.) and overall he’s scored 189 goals (175 at competitive level).

“Yeah, right now I suppose it’s a distinct possibility that I will reach that milestone of 1,000 games for United” Giggs said.

“If I finish this season well and play again next year, I should do it, which would be great, because not many have achieved that sort of record for just one club.

If I do it, it would be another thing to be proud of and to cherish.” Three months ago, beset by a hamstring injury, Giggs was beginning to think his time was up.

But he’s battled on – as always – and he was quite outstanding as United beat Liverpool 2-1 earlier this month. Now in his 23rd season at Old Trafford, there is no suggestion that he is crawling over the line to pass the 900-game barrier.

Knowing ‘Giggsy’, he’ll get there – retirement is no longer on the agenda!

Giggs has also already won 33 medals with United – and who knows how many more he’ll add to his collection before he takes off his boots.

So far he has helped his club win 12 Premiership titles (a record no-one will ever beat), four FA Cup and four League Cup finals, eight Charity Shields, two UEFA Champions Leagues, one Super Cup, one Intercontinental Cup and the FIFA World Cup.

In addition to those honours Giggs is among the Football League’s 100 Legends (the last active player in the list).

He also appointed an OBE in the Queen’s 2007 Birthday Honours List, and was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in 2005, for his services to English Football.

Named as the BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 2009, in January 2011, he was named Manchester United’s greatest ever player by a worldwide poll conducted by the club’s official programme and website and in October of last year Giggs was honoured with the 2011 Golden Foot Award.

Beat that!

Fact The all-time record for most appearances for one single club, according to my files, belongs to defender Bill Baillie, who played 1,013 games for the Irish team Linfield between 1986 and 2011. In fact, he’s the only player I can find who has made 1,000 appearances for a single football club anywhere in the world!

I stand corrected if someone knows different! England’s most capped player Peter Shilton who served with Derby County, Stoke City, Leicester, Nottingham Forest, Southampton and others, the versatile Tony Ford (ex-Grimsby Town, West Brom and Sunderland) and the great man himself, Pele, all topped the 1,000 appearance mark in their respective careers – but NOT with one solitary club.

The former Italian defender Paolo Maldini played 902 games for AC Milan: 1985-2009.

By Tony Matthews

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