Milestone man Giggs set for 1,000th game

Exactly 22 years ago on Saturday, a 17-year-old wearing a baggy shirt and hitched-up shorts ran on as a substitute at Old Trafford to make his Manchester United debut. Having excelled at youth team level, the kid was already being spoken about in glowing terms. English football was expecting big things. And he has been worth all the hype.

Ryan Giggs will pass another milestone in his extraordinary career if he appears for United in the Premier League match against Norwich, at Old Trafford. It will be his 1,000th senior competitive match, and the superlatives for the 39-year-old Welshman have long run out.

Managers, players and teammates have been effusive in their praise all week. Swansea manager Michael Laudrup labeled him "pure class.'' United colleague Rafael da Silva went as far as saying Giggs "is such a good player it is getting boring.''

Perhaps Giggs can be best summed up by his manager and mentor Alex Ferguson, who has carefully nurtured his protege into arguably the Premier League's greatest player in history.

"He is a marvelous player and an exceptional human being,'' Ferguson said Friday, moments after United rewarded Giggs for his continued outstanding displays with a new one-year deal. "Ryan is an example to us all, the way in which he has, and continues to, look after himself.''

Giggs has gone on to become the most decorated player in British football, winning 12 Premier Leagues, four FA Cups, three League Cups, two Champions Leagues, one UEFA Super Cup, an Intercontinental Cup and a Club World Cup.

He has played 931 matches for United, scoring 168 goals, including five this season, 64 times for Wales and made four appearances for Britain at London Olympics. And still he retains that hunger that can leave some players by the end of their teens.

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