Ryan Giggs will carry on playing into his forties, says former Manchester United team-mate Gary Neville
Thursday 19 April 2012
Gary Neville does not believe the staggering achievements of Ryan Giggs will ever be beaten – and predicted that his long-time Manchester United team-mate could extend his career well into his forties.
Neville did not do too badly during his own playing days, collecting eight league titles and a Champions League winners' medal in a substantial trophy haul before quitting the game in the middle of last season.
Yet Neville knows he will always be overshadowed by Giggs, leader of that famed Class of '92 which spawned so many medal collectors. Should United go on to lift the Premier League title this term, it would be Giggs' 13th, extending his own record.
And as he continues to perform at such a high standard, Neville sees no reason why the 38-year-old cannot go on way beyond the additional season Sir Alex Ferguson has already got him to sign a contract for.
"Will we ever see his like again? No, no way," said Neville. "Ryan Giggs will go down as the most successful British footballer of all time and I cannot see anyone ever overtaking him. He's on the brink of his 13th league title, after all. When we were younger, we often heard about Alan Hansen's amazing eight championships with Liverpool. But what we are witnessing at the moment is greatness before our very eyes.
"Ryan is unique, he has surpassed all records in terms of domestic titles and he has incredible desire, quality and spirit. He's just fantastic to watch.
"You give up asking how long he could go on for. Why bother? When you see his quality and what a contribution he makes to the team why would he even think about it?
"Ryan is 38 years old, and he will contribute at the age of 42 if he wants to, the way his body is right now, the way his football is and the quality he still has."
Neville was speaking as part of a series of interviews carried out on behalf of the Premier League leading up to the end of its 20th season. Giggs is the only player left who has featured in them all, which in itself would make him a contender to be No 1. The fact he has remained at the highest level throughout just underlines the remarkable way Giggs has adapted his game.
"The best player in the history of the Premier League? It's got to be Ryan Giggs, no question at all," said Neville.
"He has constantly adapted his game. He went from being a flying winger in the early days to someone who could play off the front, to a central midfielder, and even to left-back if required. He can play anywhere and that's what really great players do: they adapt."
Of course, talent helps as well. And it was obvious Giggs had plenty of that the first time Neville saw him when the pair were schoolboys.
"Ryan has a God-given talent," said Neville. "I first played with him when I was 14. He's still the best young player I've ever seen. It's astonishing what he could do – the ball was tied to his feet and he could do everything at amazing pace.
"And, it's probably not the first thing you think of when you mention Ryan, but he's so tough mentally and physically very strong."
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