Published on February 18, 2013 | by Lloyd Adams

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Giggs still keeping up despite approaching the big 40

Ryan Giggs

Ryan Giggs ready to kick-off for Manchester United [Flickr: Apasciuto]

To some Ryan Giggs is a one-club man who on the field of play, continues to produce performances of the highest order.

Now closing in on his 40th birthday, does he still have a part to play in the future for Manchester United, or is it time to accompany Jamie Carragher into retirement?

During the FA Cup third round replay at Old Trafford between Manchester United and West Ham, the crowd were in awe of the class that oozed from Giggs’ menacing runs, composure on the ball, and accuracy of his passing.

He has an abundance of skills in his artillery, with all his great assets on display during his most iconic goal, against Arsenal in the 1999 FA Cup semi-final replay; the Welshman intercepted a loose pass from Patrick Vieira on the half-way line and beat four players, before rifling the ball past David Seaman and into the roof of the net to send United into the final.

With his wealth of experience, his calming influence and presence in the squad has overtaken his match-winning qualities as he has aged.

Today, he is working alongside youngsters, offering a vital advice in key scenarios and leading from the front when on the pitch.

His influence on the game is priceless and was evident during United’s recent game against Real Madrid at the Bernabéu when Giggs was introduced to steady the ship, using his big-game experience to help see the result out.

The wily old fox also proved he could still mix it with the best.

With a career well into its third decade he is not only a testament to his team and backroom staff, but also a great role-model to up-and-coming players.

He has been fortunate not to have suffered serious injury and the manner in which he has managed his body is a shining example for other older players.

The combination of yoga, diet and the vigorous training programmes at the club ensures he stays in shape; the fact that his fewest of appearances during a season was still 32 in 2009-10 is testament to his superb fitness.

But Giggs’ longevity owes more to just fitness. Indeed it’s no coincidence a host of United players have continued to play well into their thirties.

Credit must go to Sir Alex Ferguson for managing the workload of the likes of Giggs and Paul Scholes, not only now but also when they were coming through the ranks.

Michael Owen recently noted that he was forced to play too much, too early, and that has affected his inability to stay injury-free as he’s got older.

Giggs’ body was clearly not pushed to such limits, which is perhaps one of the reasons he is still not talking about retirement.

Before that, high on the agenda is retaining the Premier League, while also progressing through the rounds of the FA Cup and Champions League.

That would be the perfect send-off for a great servant to not only United but also to world football.

 

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