On March 2 1991, a young Welshman replaced Denis Irwin for Manchester United at home to Everton. 

On March 2 2013, the very same, and now not so young, Welshman may well start for Manchester United at home to Norwich. 999 professional appearances later, Ryan Giggs is still a huge threat in the Manchester United squad. 

At just 17, Ryan Giggs made his Manchester United debut almost 23 years ago. 

There are so many facts, stats and figures that can make one's jaw drop when referring to Ryan Giggs. 

In modern day football where a career has the potential to last just a few years, Giggs is a phenomenon. His longevity is something to be marvelled at, his maintained levels of fitness are stunning. Moreover, his ability to adapt, however, is what may well be the reason for his continued success.

It's easy to fall into clichés about Giggs, to reel off the same incredible sounding statistics, but for once in football they certainly ring true. A goal in every season of the Premier League since its inception cannot be matched. 

It's hard to see anyone else reaching 1000 professional games especially at the highest level for one single club (and country). The way Giggs has looked after his body and changed his role within the game is testament to his professionalism. 

Ryan Giggs will be the first person to admit to you that he no longer possesses the devastating pace he used to tear defences apart with. It's impossible to keep such speed for such a long amount of time. 

But his conditioning of his body through self-disciplined exercise, adaptability and utter and unrivalled professionalism is what has set Giggs apart from the pack. 

Knowing full well his body would deteriorate over his career, and his pace wouldn't last forever, Giggs, along with Sir Alex Ferguson, altered his role. He moved infield. A subtle change, yes, but one that has arguably prolonged Giggs' career by years. 

The wing is a notoriously hard position to play in. The ability to beat a man at pace with the ball is now an art that few have truly mastered in the same way Giggs had throughout earlier stages in his career. Personified by that goal against Arsenal in The FA Cup semi-final replay in 1999, Giggs' pace with the ball was frightening defenders the world over. 

Arguably, he was the one player who could have made a huge difference to the English national side's infamous left side of midfield problems if he had chosen England over Wales. But as of the late 2000s, said pace wasn't as blistering and as devastating anymore; with some critics stating that this was the beginning of the end, Giggs reinvented his style of play. 

His move from the wing to a more central position and began to influence games in a new way. His knowledge of wing play allowed him to make a pass to where he knew a good winger should be. Whilst fellow veteran Paul Scholes was sidelined with an eye problem for much of 2006, Giggs arguably took over the role of the quarterback and did so with aplomb. 

The faith shown in him in his later years by Sir Alex Ferguson is testament to his unrivalled stamina and hunger at this top level. Giggs has won everything there is to win, 12 Premiership trophies, 2 Champions Leagues, 4 FA Cups and 3 League Cups isn't too bad a haul. 

It would be easy for Giggs to walk away. The fact he hasn't demonstrates his passion for football and for Manchester United. The rarity of a one-club-man these days is something to be marvelled at, and in Giggs it certainly is. His new one year contract extension means that, thankfully, as fans of football first and foremost, we get the honour of seeing him play for longer.

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#Ryan Giggs
#Football
#Manchester United