Arsene Wenger has praised Ryan Giggs for his ability to stay the top of football for so long.
Giggs, who turns 40 on Friday, put in a man of the match display against Bayer Leverkusen for Manchester United on Wednesday despite his advanced years.
With the demands of the modern game seemingly taking their toll on most players in their mid-thirties, Giggs has bucked the trend and is still playing regularly at Old Trafford.
Similarly, Arsenal's record goal scorer Thierry Henry is still starring in the MLS at the age of 36, and Wenger has labelled certain traits that have allowed the pair to thrive for so long.
“If I’m 20 per cent above the normal level at a young age and I drop 10 per cent, I'm still 10 per cent above everybody else. That's what happened to Ryan Giggs,” Wenger told Arsenal Player.
“What he has done is absolutely exceptional. I always thought that Ryan Giggs did not always get the reward or the recognition for his quality and his huge career because he did not play in the World Cup and the European Championship.
“You look at his club career - it's absolutely unbelievable. The quality of his performances show a masterclass at 40. What is very remarkable in his case is that he has turned from being an individual player into being a good passer and a collective player.
“That is a very difficult transformation and that shows you that he not only had individual quality but the intelligence and understanding of the game as well.
“People like Thierry Henry [also] had exceptional qualities,” added Wenger. “They would run 100 metres in 11 seconds when everybody else did it in 12.5 or 13. So if today they are running it in 12, they are still quicker.
“They start from a huge potential and that's why at that age they can still survive, because they have the football intelligence. They had exceptional physical qualities at the start.”
Giggs made his 952nd appearance for Manchester United last night and could well reach 1000 after David Moyes hinted that Giggs may be offered another one year contract at Old Trafford, taking him in to his 23rd season.
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