WELSH football’s golden boy was last night awarded the Silva standard.
Brazilian World Cup winner Gilberto Silva has hailed Ryan Giggs as one of “world football’s finest players” and believes the Manchester United idol is among “the last of dying breed” of one-club superstars.
The Arsenal idol watched in admiration as Welsh wizard Giggs stole the show from Ronaldinho, Robinho and Co in last week’s friendly with the Samba Boys before admitting “Boy Wonder” could’ve starred for Brazil in his “beautiful” pomp.
Giggsy pulled the strings for Manchester United during their decade of dominance between ‘93 and 2003. He’s now the club’s most decorated player, with 15 major medals.
Gilberto remains in awe of Giggs’ consistency.
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He describes him as “the inspiration” behind United’s great start to the season, a belief borne out by the fact Giggs has been named Barclay’s Player of the Month for August.
Gilberto and Arsenal are preparing to face skipper Giggs’ rejuvenated United at Old Trafford next Sunday - but first the Welshman faces a Battle of Britain with Celtic as he begins his 13th Champions League campaign.
Gilberto told Wales on Sunday: “Ryan Giggs is a truly great player in every sense of the word.
“I regard Ryan as one of this generation’s greatest players. There have been so many world-class players like Zinedine Zidane, Paulo Maldini, Thierry Henry and Ryan Giggs is definitely up there alongside them.
“To play regularly for a great and successful club like Manchester United for so long, you have to be a bit special.”
This is 32-year-old Giggs’ 17th season as a professional at Old Trafford and he averages an amazing 37-and-a-half games a season, breaking records galore. He remains a pivotal figure for Sir Alex Ferguson in his new role in the centre of midfield.
“Not many players can compete at the highest level for that long,” admitted 29-year-old Gilberto. “It is an incredible achievement and I’ll count myself very lucky if I match him!
“Manchester United have signed a lot of excellent players over the years but Giggs has also performed at such a high level, he has made himself undroppable. Every time Ryan Giggs is challenged, he rises to it and moves up to an even higher level.
“A lot of players rest on their laurels and get upset by competition for places, but not Ryan. He is a professional with the right attitude and that’s the key to his success.
“He’s playing very well this season for Manchester United and is a big part of why they’re doing so well, which is a credit to Ryan as he is not young any more and has moved to a new position in central midfield.”
Brazil boss Dunga praised Giggs’ 45-minute cameo in Tuesday’s White Hart Lane friendly, saying: “Any manager in the world would like a player like Giggs in their side” Dunga’s captain Gilberto - who “carried the piano for Ronaldo and Rivaldo to play their tunes on” at the 2002 World Cup - added: “He could have represented any country in the world in his prime, even Brazil!
“Every football fan in Brazil knows Ryan Giggs. We like flair players who can dribble past defenders and Ryan Giggs can certainly do that.
“He still turns on the style now as he showed with some lovely flicks against us on Tuesday.”
Giggs’ dribbling abilities is epitomised by that goal - voted the best FA Cup goal ever.
It was against Gilberto’s Arsenal that Giggs scored his best and most famous goal when he dribbled from inside his own half to fire past David Seaman to win the FA Cup semi-final deep into extra-time. The goal proved a turning point for United on their march to their historic Champions League, Premiership and FA Cup winning treble in 1999.
That memorable trophy hat-trick was Giggs’ most successful season in his haul of a record-equalling eight championships, record-equalling four FA Cup wins, two League Cup titles and one Champions League.
And Giggs’ strike for United against Watford last month means he became the first player to have scored in every Premiership season - Gary Speed matched that landmark with a winner against Watford yesterday.
Giggs, who won his 59th Welsh cap against Brazil, is unique in modern day football as he’s one of a select few one-club players.
Since his United debut at Everton in March 1991, the Cardiff-born ace - immortalised in a episode of cult cartoon The Simpsons - has played an incredible 676 games for United - starting 602 of them.
Roma’s Francesco Totti, Real Madrid legend Raul and Giggs’ United team-mates Gary Neville and Paul Scholes are other top-class one-club men - and Gilberto reckons such achievements are becoming a thing of the past.
“Unfortunately, Ryan Giggs is one of the last of a dying breed of footballers,” said Gilberto.
“It’s nice to see players play for one club for so long.
“It doesn’t happen that often these days.
“I’m sure Ryan has been tempted by moves abroad but when you are happy at a club, you want to stay.
“Moving abroad isn’t just a footballing difference but it changes your lifestyle completely as you must adapt to the culture and that can take a very long time.
“Sometimes players never adapt.
“Happiness in football is the most important thing and you can sense the happiness in Ryan Giggs’ soul every time he steps out and plays football. You know he loves the game and loves his life - and his happiness makes a lot of people happy.”