A one of a kind superstar

2011-04-09 00:00

WAYNE Rooney has been in the news all week.

If it wasn’t soft drink companies leaving him with Zero, it was the Football Association showing they knew sweet FA about what is happening in their own game, and throwing their toys out for Rooney’s latest indiscretion.

And yet, Rooney also made headlines for other reasons over the last seven days.

Like his hat-trick against West Ham, before he decided to practise his basic German in front of a television camera.

Oh, and he also happened to score a crucial winner against Chelsea in the Champions League.

Those who know the game will say Rooney’s was a classy finish — and of course it was.

What many will forget though, is the role played by a 37-year-old in the whole move leading up to the goal.

But that’s Ryan Giggs for you.

In an age where his younger colleagues make just as many headlines for falling out of nightclubs, or spitting, or swearing or even daring to play well for more than two matches in a row, Giggs continues to be peerless in his hunger to succeed.

We have heard of sports stars who have achieved far less, and gone off in search of the spotlight, adamant that they were legends of their time.

In many ways, Giggs shares many similarities with another 37-year-old superstar.

This one just so happens to have won the World Cup last week, to complete a disgustingly rich haul of achievements in his own career.

Sachin Tendulkar is lauded the world over, from Auckland to Ahmedabad, Mumbai to Melbourne and Lord’s to Lahore.

Well, perhaps not Lahore, especially after the spat involving Shahid Afridi and the whole of India.

Tendulkar has carried the burden of a nation, and done it with a ready smile and the straightest of bats.

Sadly, Giggs will never know what a World Cup looks like, never mind hold it.

The footballing gods blessed him with pace, skill and an eye for the gap — but they didn’t give him everything.

Had Giggs been born just an hour’s drive east, he would have been English, and the world may well have seen the “Three Lions” winning something.

The left-wing was always an issue for any England manager. The likes of Glenn Hoddle, Graham Taylor and Kevin Keegan would have given anything to be able to summon Giggs for internationals, but he had to content himself with an endless stream of botched qualifying runs.

Wales, as a team, were never quite good enough.

And irony of ironies, they are now starting to produce some talent, just as Giggs is about to exit the stage.

But all this time, he has maintained his remarkable standards for his club.

His only club. In an age of massive transfer deals, ludicrous wages and scant respect for contracts, Giggs could have easily had his pick of clubs in his prime. But he never bothered.

He simply guzzled greedily at the domestic buffet of honours while dressed in his Manchester United dining gear.

His appearance tally, his goals, his medals and, above all, his longevity all point to a man who is obsessed with being the best he can be.

He was at it again on Wednesday night, providing the perfect cross for Rooney to steal the headlines.

Giggs doesn’t care much for his name in the paper these days.

His moment in the limelight was after “that” goal against Arsenal in the 1999 FA Cup semi-final replay, when he danced from halfway, through the traffic, before rifling an absolute gem of a goal past David Seaman.

He peeled off his shirt in that one heady moment, exposing a mop of hair that King Kong may have been proud of. He isn’t much prone to such exuberant behaviour these days, and the legs to canter past half a dozen defenders have also faded.

But the class is still intact.

The exquisite first touch that allowed him to breeze past Jose Bosingwa will be forgotten by many, but a precious few would have doffed their caps at his enduring class.

He has done it so many times before, that some even take it for granted.

It is in such little, precious moments that seasons can be defined.

United may go on to win the double, perhaps even the treble this season.

For many of the players, it will be a once-in-a-lifetime moment, a sure ticket to bigger endorsements and flashier cars.

But for one player, it will be a sense of déjà vu. Giggs has done it all before, of course. And yet he still wants to do it again.

In this age of instant gratification, that makes him a once-in-a-lifetime player.

Savour him — even grudgingly — while you can because, like Sachin Tendulkar, we are very unlikely to see his like in this lifetime.

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