MANCHESTER United legend Ryan Giggs racked up his 1,000th appearance this week and Wycombe Wanderers chief Gareth Ainsworth has spoken of his admiration for a player he first faced more than 20 years ago.
Veteran winger Giggs reached the milestone as the Red Devils crashed out of the Champions League in controversial fashion on Tuesday night against Spanish giants Real Madrid.
Blues player-boss Ainsworth has clocked up almost 600 games in a career that has spanned 11 clubs and started in his hometown of Blackburn, where he first came across a young Giggs, as the duo were starting their football careers.
Ainsworth has fond memories of his clashes with the Welsh wizard, they faced each other again during his time with the Crazy Gang at Wimbledon, and the 39-year-old is honoured to have shared a pitch with the most decorated player in British football.
“He’s a one-off,” said Ainsworth. “There’s not many who’ve played 1,000. To even be near the 600 is a good career and hopefully I can get there.
“I remember playing against Ryan at about the age of 16 or 17. I was at Blackburn at the time and he was special even then.
“I’m very honoured to have played against him when I was younger and what a great ambassador he is for the game.
“Anyone who is young and wants to make it as a professional and emulate someone, you can’t go far wrong with Ryan Giggs.
“I played him again when I was at Wimbledon and we remembered each other. We always say hello to each other and he’s a great guy off the pitch as well as on it.
“We’re slightly different in our careers but I think we both have the same love for the game.”
Giggs has prolonged his career in the game by adopting yoga, something Ainsworth has also adopted in his late thirties.
“We do yoga every week and it’s something I tried later in my career,” Ainsworth said. “The beauty of the modern game is that you get access to all of these things.
“When I was younger it was only old ladies that did yoga. Attitudes have changed and you can see the help that it has given Ryan Giggs. It’s great for the game.
“I make sure the lads all take it seriously and it focuses the mind as well as the body.”
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