An in depth interview with Ryan Giggs
ON MEETING FERGIE FOR THE FIRST TIME
'I remember running home from my mate's house, turning the corner and seeing that big Mercedes,' says Giggs. 'I'd forgotten he was coming that day. It was the one and only time he's ever let me off with being late...'
ON SIGNING FOR UNITED
'Having the manager come round to your house — it tells you there's no messing, it's not casual, he really wants you. He's convinced many boys that way,' says Giggs. 'Little things he does have an effect, like remembering your mum's name. You think: "How can Alex Ferguson know my mum's name?" That makes your mum happy. And if your mum's happy, you're happy. So you sign.' 'Manchester United have given me everything I've possibly wanted, you know. Some people, like Alan Shearer, have great careers but don't win trophies. I've been lucky to win so much — and get the friendships I've enjoyed. It's been the whole package. I wouldn't swap my career with anyone's.'
ON CHRISTIANO RONALDO
'Cristiano can do things that no other player can do. Now he needs to learn how to play that position right. Because the way United play, as a winger you need to work hard and get into all the right positions. When I came into the team I used to sprint back to help the full back, but that had been drilled into me from the youth team. Cristiano never grew up with that. 'It's hard for him, I think, because he wants the ball all the time. Sometimes, as a winger, you don't touch the ball for five minutes and you have to rely on others to give it to you — and that's hard for him.'
ON WAYNE ROONEY
'You didn't think he'd be quick, looking at him. I remember he went past me and he was just rapid. I hadn't set myself for that!'
ON ERIC CANTONA AND WAYNE ROONEY
'If I've seen anyone more confident on a football field, it's Wayne. He's just so strong, he's got pace and, like Eric, he does things which he makes look easy but which are really hard. 'The first thing I noticed about him was his control and his movement, his ability to turn as he's controlling the ball. And he's got great power and a great shot. When he signed from Everton the whole dressing room was excited. We're players, but we're fans as well — and like fans, we want United to get the best players.'
ON UNITED'S YOUTH POLICY
'The whole set-up at United is youth now. You get a buzz in training, seeing so many youngsters stepping up, sometimes not even from the reserves but from the youth team. At the moment we probably don't have the squad, the strength in depth we once had, but if we build on what we've got, and Wayne and Cristiano fulfil their potential, the club's in good hands.'
ON SURVIVING THE PREMIERSHIP
'I'm a much more confident person than when I started here, which comes with age,' he says. 'I'm able to handle things which I wouldn't back then, things that would have bothered me. If I wasn't playing well I was devastated. Now I'm disappointed, but I know I'll come back.'
ON GETTING OLDER
'I'm I definitely more boring. The parties, ' the girls, that's all gone.'
ON FERGIE'S FLEDGLINGS AND DAVID BECKHAM
'Suddenly, I found that there was a group of mates beside me in the team. I had become friendly with David Beckham. He lived near me. I remember him coming into the changing rooms when he was about 15. Fergie would often bring a youngster in to shake hands with all the first-team players. With Becks, Steve Bruce said: "He must be some player, because he's in here every week." He was always flash, always the Londoner, but he got on with all the lads.'
ON PAUL SCHOLES AND THE NEVILLE BROTHERS AND NICKY BUTT
'Paul Scholes was always quiet, even in the youth team. The Nevilles were always serious about their football. Gary was always organising people. Nicky Butt was the joker. The mixture of personalities helped. No one ever fell out. There'd be arguments on the pitch but they were forgotten the next day. They were genuine mates. You'd never find anyone tougher than Butty. Gary Nev had leadership qualities and all-round know-how on a football pitch. Becks's quality on the ball was always there. From day one, Scholesy played as if he were playing on the street. And he was deceptive. You'd think: "He's only small". Then he'd boot you!'
ON ROY KEANE
'Then there was Roy Keane. You never felt you were beaten when Keaney was in your team. He never threw in the towel. I don't think any of the rest of us were less determined to win than Keaney, but what makes him different is the way he gets it across, his anger if you like. More than any other player I've seen, he affects players around him.'
ON ERIC CANTONA
'Eric Cantona also brought an extra dimension. Plenty of things he tried didn't come off, but you remember the ones that did — the flicks, the outrageous lobs. He made things look easy that weren't easy at all. Before him, we struggled to score as a team, but as soon as he arrived the goals flowed.'
ON FERGIE'S FIRST GREAT UNITED TEAM
'In that dressing room you had leaders, you had strength, power, cleverness. You go through the team: Parker, Pallister, Bruce, Irwin - that back four has it all. There Was the power of Incey and Keaney; that pair could run any midfield in the world into the ground. There was Choccy (Brian McClair) with his awareness and knack of scoring goals, and the power of Sparky (Mark Hughes). And then there was Eric, who had the lot.'
ON LEE SHARPE
'When I first saw him, I remember thinking: "There's no way I'm getting in ahead of him." He was so quick and strong, a great crosser of the ball. He could have done more. He got an injury, a hernia, and it took him 18 months to get over it. Only he can tell you why it took so long, but he wasn't the same player when he got back.'