Denis Irwin latest to pay tribute to Ryan Giggs ahead of the Manchester United midfielder's 40th birthday

The Welshman will turn 40 tomorrow

Denis Irwin does not believe the records of 40th birthday boy Ryan Giggs will ever be broken.

The Manchester United winger reaches the latest milestone of his spectacular career tomorrow, which will be the prelude to him joining a select band of players who have appeared in the Premier League after entering their fifth decade.

It goes alongside his 13 Premier League titles, four FA Cups and two Champions Leagues, the stand-out moments from a glittering career that, following his spellbinding appearance in Wednesday night's 5-0 Champions League romp over Bayer Leverkusen, now also extends to 953 United games.

The figures are mind boggling.

And Irwin, who spent 12 years as a team-mate of Giggs at Old Trafford, is certain they will not be matched.

Speaking at Chevrolet retailer Frosts of Shoreham, Irwin said: "That volume of medals will never be broken.

"The number of games? That would take some beating as well.

"What he has done is unbelievable. That kind of longevity at such a top club.

"This is no run of the mill mid-table team or one in the Championship. You are talking the very highest level for the last 23 years.

"The amount of games. The number of trophies. The dedication needed to go the distance and challenge yourself every year.

"To come back for pre-season training and keep going with the same intensity shows what type of player and person he is."

As the man who limped off injured in the game against Everton at Old Trafford on March 2, 1991 to herald Giggs' introduction, Irwin played a unique role in the Welshman's career.

For well over a decade, the pair patrolled the left-hand side of the field. Giggs was the flamboyant winger, Irwin Sir Alex Ferguson's Mr Dependable.

But the Irishman has a secret. He doesn't believe his own contribution could have been possible without Giggs' assistance.

"I was a right-footed full-back," he said.

"Throughout all the time we played together, Ryan was my left foot.

"He wasn't afraid to do his defensive duties. He would always do the dirty side of things.

"I could always trust him to come back and mark the overlapping full-back.

"It was a pleasure to work with him. He made my job a hell of a lot easier."

After sharing in so many triumphs, the actual volume of Giggs' medal haul is not something that particularly startles Irwin.

He is more impressed by his one-time colleague's ability to keep going.

As Irwin acknowledged, once players reach their mid-30s, they tend to get bracketed as veterans and their actual age is forgotten.

Yet, in much the same way as they develop from 25 to 30, so the change continues from 35 to 40.

Having reached the age of 38 before calling time on his own career, Irwin is acutely aware of the effort Giggs has put into the latter years of his career.

"At that age, all you need are two or three indifferent games and the end of the horizon starts to come into view," said Irwin.

"To the media you are a veteran and they are ready to pension you off.

"Mentally you have to deal with that, just as much as the physical side.

"I played a lot the year before but in my final season at Wolves I hardly figured over the last two or three months because I was finding it so tough.

"I know Ryan probably doesn't play as many games as he would like but you still have to train the same way.

"You can't lighten the workload. You need to do exactly the same to show that you can go the pace of the Premier League.

"For him to continue for the past six or seven years, play the amount of games he has and win all those trophies at the very top level is unbelievable."

Denis Irwin was presenting Frosts of Shoreham with a Manchester United Chevrolet Trax - for more information go to http://www.chevrolet.co.uk

PA

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'