ManUtd.com's Mark Froggatt feels the ovation afforded to Ryan Giggs at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu was much deserved...
For decades, visitors to Real Madrid's great cathedral have worshipped various gods of world football, congregating in the steep pews to pay homage to the talents of Alfredo Di Stefano, Ferenc Puskas and, among others, Raul.
However, on Wednesday, with 64 minutes on the clock, those inside the great Spanish stadium made a seldom seen gesture, rising to applaud the introduction of Giggs; United legend and bona fide icon of the UEFA Champions League.
At 39, he defies logic, replacing 23-year-old Shinji Kagawa to feature in his 150th match in UEFA competition, producing a performance of great composure just days after scoring against Everton to maintain a record of netting in every Premier League campaign.
Even Giggs, who has arguably seen everything throughout a trophy-laden career, was shocked to receive such a reception from a Real Madrid crowd that, at times, has chosen not to support their own team. "It took me by surprise," he admitted. "It was obviously very good - I’ll have to play here more often!"
Of course, raise the topic of standing ovations and the mind wanders to Old Trafford, 2003, when the original Ronaldo, then European Footballer of the Year, left the field midway through the second half, his wrecking job accomplished, to receive a lengthy salute from almost everyone within the Theatre of Dreams.
This applause was both admirable and begrudged after the Brazilian netted a devastating hat-trick to almost single-handedly knock United out of the Champions League at the