Ryan Giggs today celebrates his 36th birthday, the day after scoring his 100th Premier League goal in Manchester United’s 4-1 victory at Portsmouth. It would be remiss not to mark the occasion.
The Welshman has enjoyed four or five careers within a career in his 18 years as a professional player, from boy wonder, to international superstar, to model professional, to elder statesman. His hair may now be flecked with grey but England’s most decorated footballer has arrived at a moment in his football development where his every touch is characterised by a serene sense of awareness, almost as if he is playing in slow-motion.
Nowhere was this more evident than in his superb second-half performance at Fratton Park yesterday, where he set up two goals for Wayne Rooney – who described his team-mate’s contribution as “truly incredible” – before reaching his goalscoring milestone with a well-placed free-kick.
It has not always been like this. There were times in his career when his inconsistency was maligned to such an extent that many United fans wondered aloud if his best days might already be behind him. It is to his credit that he rode out that rough spell and to watch him today is to behold the work of a true craftsman.
It will be a sad day indeed when he leaves the field for the final time. That that day moves closer with every match he plays makes these final virtuoso performances all the more poignant.