Giggs to stay at United beyond 40th birthday

LONDON – Ryan Giggs has signed a one-year contract extension to stay at Manchester United until the summer of 2014.
Ryan Giggs puts pen to paper with manager Sir Alex Ferguson (right) and chief executive David Gill.  Net photo.
Ryan Giggs puts pen to paper with manager Sir Alex Ferguson (right) and chief executive David Gill. Net photo.

LONDON – Ryan Giggs has signed a one-year contract extension to stay at Manchester United until the summer of 2014.

The deal will take Giggs, who will celebrate his 40th birthday in November, into a 23rd season as a first-team player at Old Trafford.

Giggs told the club’s official website: ‘I am feeling good, enjoying my football more than ever and, most importantly, I feel I am making a contribution to the team.

‘This is an exciting team to be part of, with great team spirit, and we are again pushing for trophies as we head towards the business end of the season.

‘I am delighted to have signed a new contract. I would like to thank Sir Alex and the coaching staff and I would also like to thank David Gill who has been a tremendous support over my many years here.’

Giggs is on course to win a 13th league championship with United 12 points clear of Manchester City.

His next game will be his 1,000th senior appearance, which includes games for Wales and Team GB at the London Olympics.

Manager Sir Alex Ferguson said: ‘What can I say about Ryan that hasn’t already been said?

‘He is a marvellous player and an exceptional human being. Ryan is an example to us all, the way in which he has, and continues to, look after himself.

‘He could be playing his 1,000th game tomorrow and I don’t think that will ever be achieved again, the way players contracts seem to work these days.

‘He deserves this contract as his form has never changed. He still has great balance and touch on the ball and great fitness.

‘He still gets you a goal, too.

‘He has fantastic energy for the game and it is wonderful to see. Ryan seems to reach a new milestone every week and to think that he now has 23 unbroken years of league goals behind him is truly amazing in the modern-day game.

‘His form this year shows his ability and his enjoyment of the game are as strong as ever and I am absolutely delighted that he has signed a new contract.’

Asked if Giggs would one day move on to the coaching staff at Old Trafford, Ferguson was adamant.

He added: ‘That will happen. We have done the same with people like Nicky Butt and Brian McClair and when Ryan finishes it will be exactly the same.

‘We are good at that.’

Giggs came through the ranks at Old Trafford and was offered his first professional contract in 1990 on the day of his 17th birthday.

He made his League debut against Everton on March 2, 1991 as a substitute for Denis Irwin.

Ferguson himself has said this week that he would like to become a director when he eventually steps down as manager.

He said: ‘That will be a long time away, I hope. If you look at Sir Bobby Charlton he really has been a tremendous support system for the manager and the players here.

‘The Bayern Munich model - where former players have big positions at the club - is brilliant.’

Former United favourite David Beckham says Ferguson must take all the credit for the longevity of the players at Old Trafford.

Beckham, 37, is now at Paris Saint-Germain while the likes of his former team-mates Phil Neville and Paul Scholes, as well as Giggs, are still performing at the highest level.

‘The majority of the Manchester United players who started in the mid 1990s - Ryan Giggs, Nicky Butt, Gary Neville, Phil Neville, Paul Scholes and I - are still on the pitch,’ former England captain Beckham told L’Equipe.

‘I think it is because Sir Alex Ferguson showed us the way when we were teenagers. He taught us to respect the game, to respect our body and to love what we do.

‘For now, Ryan Giggs is the one who has been furthest (in his career). He continues to play at the highest level and he does not seem to want to stop.’

Ferguson confirmed he expects Paul Scholes to play some part in the run-in after his recent fitness problems.

Norwich are up next for United and Ferguson insists they are fully focused on the clash despite entertaining Real Madrid on Tuesday with the Champions League last-16 tie all square at 1-1.

The Scot added: ‘Tomorrow is an important game for us. Tuesday will look after itself. That is an occasion whereas tomorrow is a more mundane, practical situation. But we need to win.

‘I can assure you my players will not be thinking about Tuesday.’

If Norwich win it will be just the 15th time a team has done the double over United since the Premier League started.

Giggs to join top-flight 40 club

The Welshman will become just the third outfield player in Premier League history to carry on past their 40th birthday after:

Teddy Sheringham     – 40 years 268 days

Gordon Strachan     – 40 years 87 days

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