MANCHESTER - Manchester United's Ryan Giggs will make his 600th league appearance on Sunday if he plays at Tottenham Hotspur and after 20 years at the top he is still a key part of the squad for the Premier League leaders.
The curly mop of hair that made him a pin-up in the 1990s has been replaced by a sensible crop but the evergreen Giggs, who played against Liverpool last week, was almost as lively as the teenager who made his United league debut in March 1991.
He scored from the penalty spot on Sunday to give United a 1-0 win that sent them through to the FA Cup Fourth Round and inspired his side with fine distribution and tireless running that showed why the club have kept faith with a 37-year-old.
"He's just an incredible human being, he defies the logic of a forward playing at the level he did last Sunday," United manager Sir Alex Ferguson told a news conference on Friday.
"He's got that capability and fitness. His fitness was fantastic last week - he was going for the whole 90 minutes up and down the pitch, and he's been doing that for two decades.
"There is no other player that's ever done that or ever likely to do that. He's quite an amazing man."
Giggs has spent his entire career at the north west club, winning 11 league titles, four FA Cups, four League Cups and two Champions League titles, as well as numerous individual awards.
While no longer a regular starter, he still plays key games and Ferguson said that with midfielder Park Ji-sung representing South Korea at the Asian Cup in Qatar, Giggs' role had become even more vital as the club chase a record 19th league title.
"Obviously, we know how to manage him now and he doesn't play every week. But when he does he makes a contribution that lifts the team and I think he did that particularly in the second half last week, he was outstanding," said Ferguson.
"We've lost him (Park) for seven matches... so therefore keeping Ryan fresh is going to be the secret for us."
Part of a golden generation of United players, like David Beckham and Paul Scholes, who helped them win an unprecedented treble of Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League in 1999, Giggs is admired for his professionalism on and off the pitch.
He rarely picks up bookings and stays out of the media spotlight, choosing instead to get involved in charity work and study for the coaching qualifications that will ensure his involvement in the sport for many years to come.
It remains to be seen if United offer Giggs another one-year contract at the end of the season but he is in the running to feature at White Hart Lane on Sunday and Spurs manager Harry Redknapp knows what the Welshman is all about.
"He's a credit to the game for sure," Redknapp told a news conference. "He's just a great player and a great lad. I don't know him very well but he's a class act on the pitch and off the pitch. He's an amazing fellow."comments