pace and quality on the ball, whereas now he’s brought all those to the fore in different positions. Maturity gives you that.
“In his early career he was surrounded by quality which allowed him to be young, effervescent and show his real qualities, which were his skills. That was accepted by the team, the fans and the club and the excitement he produced when he was young was because he was young, he was capable of making mistakes and he was allowed to make them in order to develop.”
There are complexities to being a 39-year-old footballer at the highest level, so being immersed in consistency has helped. Giggs has represented one club under one manager for almost a quarter of a century – an obvious boon. So too are the Welshman’s physical attributes: a light, slender, aerodynamic frame built to last and resist the ravages of time.
According to those who have worked with Giggs, the secret to his perpetual evolution – and his success over that time period - has been cerebral. It seems even age can be duped by intelligence. “He’s an incredibly open-minded athlete,” says Mike Clegg, who worked with Giggs for over 11 years as United’s former strength and conditioning coach. “He regenerates his youth all the time by being open-minded. When I worked with him, he always allowed me to show him different things that I thought might help him. He would consider anything.
“Everyone knows he does yoga. He did boxing and weightlifting too and has tried all sorts – he even gave trampolining a go when he was 34 or 35 – but one example still sticks with me. A few years ago, Ryan wasn’t happy with his crossing and he wanted to perfect it, but didn’t know why he couldn’t. By chance, I noticed that he wrote right-handed, and it didn’t look right, so we chatted and I told him to