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Old 27th April 2009, 09:27   #1
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Default Ryan Giggs dedicates ‘the big one’ to Sir Alex Ferguson

Ryan Giggs dedicates ‘the big one’ to Sir Alex Ferguson
Kaveh Solhekol The Times
April 27, 2009

Ryan Giggs was voted the Professional Footballers’ Association Players’ Player of the Year last night and the Manchester United winger dedicated his award to the man who persuaded him to leave the Manchester City School of Excellence when he was 13. “I owe a massive thank you to Sir Alex Ferguson,” Giggs said. “First of all for spotting me and then for giving me a career in the game.”

Ferguson had been at United for only a year in 1987 when he acted on a tip-off from an Old Trafford steward to check out a precocious young winger who had caught his eye while playing for Salford Boys. The United manager was so impressed after watching Giggs that he drove to the teenager’s house with a two-year schoolboy contract tucked inside his jacket pocket.

Giggs signed on the line and started a glittering United career in which he has won ten Premier League titles, two Champions Leagues and four FA Cups, and 22 years later his achievements were recognised by his fellow professionals for the first time at The Grosvenor House Hotel in Central London last night.

“It’s the best one to win, to be voted for by your fellow players,” Giggs, 35, said. “I’ve been fortunate to win a lot of trophies, including two Young Player of the Year awards, but this is the big one.”

Giggs won the Young Player of the Award in 1992 and 1993, so he knows exactly how Ashley Young felt when he received this year’s award last night. The 23-year-old Aston Villa and England forward’s excellent early-season form helped him to claim the award ahead of Gabriel Agbonlahor, his club colleague, Rafael Da Silva, Jonny Evans, Stephen Ireland and Aaron Lennon. “It’s an honour for me, my club and my teammates,” Young, who has scored eight times this season, said. “It’s a great privilege.”

Giggs is expected to make his 800th appearance for United in Wednesday’s Champions League semi-final, first leg against Arsenal at Old Trafford and there was a strong United contingent in London last night, including Ferguson, Rio Ferdinand, Gary Neville and Paul Scholes.

Ferguson spent the afternoon watching Arsenal beat Middlesbrough 2-0 at the Emirates Stadium before putting on his tuxedo to watch Giggs receive his award from a short-list that included four other United players – Ferdinand, Cristiano Ronaldo, Edwin van der Sar and Nemanja Vidic – and Steven Gerrard, the Liverpool captain, who won the award in 2006. Giggs has started only 12 Barclays Premier League matches this season and the former Wales winger was in the directors’ box at Old Trafford on Saturday as United recovered from conceding two first-half goals to beat Tottenham Hotspur 5-2 and replace Liverpool at the top of the table.

“It’s been an exciting season,” Giggs said. “It looks like it is going to go down to the wire. It’s big game after big game now, but that’s what you want and that’s what you need at a big club like United.”

While the champagne and other drinks flowed last night, Giggs looked back on his career in the game and he was at his most eloquent when he was asked how his life would have turned out if he had not met Ferguson when he was still at school. “It’s not even worth thinking about,” said Giggs, who made his United debut in March 1991, four months after Margaret Thatcher stepped down as Prime Minister. “When I first met him I was 13, so it’s been more than 20 years.

“Our relationship has been brilliant over the years and it just gets better. I’ve been so fortunate to have such a good career and to have played with so many great players in so many great teams.”

Giggs is the third United player in a row to receive the award after Ronaldo’s achievements were recognised in 2007 and 2008.
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. Martin Luther King
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