Manchester United's Ryan Giggs Should Be Lauded as One of the Best Ever

Mike HytnerContributor INovember 8, 2016

LISBON, PORTUGAL - SEPTEMBER 14:  Ryan Giggs of Manchester United celebrates his goal during the UEFA Champions League Group C match between SL Benfica and Manchester United at the Estadio da Luz on September 14, 2011 in Lisbon, Portugal.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
Clive Mason/Getty Images

Things didn't quite pan out as expected in Lisbon as Manchester United were forced to come from behind to earn a draw against Benfica in the Champions League.

With the largely ineffectual Wayne Rooney cutting an isolated figure up front, it was left to an old-timer to salvage something from the game for the Red Devils. Ryan Giggs proved he still has some oomph left in his boots with a searing drive for the visitors' only goal of the game.

Given their scorching domestic form, it was a disappointing performance from Alex Ferguson's side, but in Giggs' strike, they truly had something to celebrate.

While the Welshman's overall performance wasn't one of the greatest he's ever put in—he sat far too deep during the first half and was largely responsible for Rooney's isolation—his achievement of scoring in 16 different Champions League campaigns deserves huge acclaim.

His latest goal also extended his own record as the competition's oldest goal-scorer, at the ripe old age of 37 years and 289 days.

Two amazing landmarks, and entirely befitting of a player who has not only performed, but excelled at the highest level for such a long time.

That he is effectively doing what he did 15 years ago, just at a different pace and in a different position, is a testament to his immense skill, versatility, commitment and physical shape. Players boasting those attributes and the longevity that goes with them do not come along often.

Giggs could even have grabbed a match-winning second at the Estadio da Luz, when he rolled back the years with a trademark mazy dribble, the likes of which he conjured up for fun as a whippet-like youngster. Only a decent save by Benfica keeper Artur Moraes denied him.

That he is still capable of producing moments like that almost defies logic. Normal rules say he should have retired a couple of years ago, or be cashing enormous cheques while turning out for some Qatari team.

However, Giggs just keeps on going on the big stage. And the good news is that, as Wednesday's goal proves, he's showing no signs of calling it a day just yet. There's plenty of life left in the old dog yet, even if there are fewer and fewer records left for him to break.