Denis Irwin does not believe the records of Manchester United winger, Ryan Giggs, will ever be broken. The former Welsh international clocks 40 on Friday, which marks another milestone in his career as he prepares to join an elite group of few Premier League players who played into their fifth decade.
Having helped the Premier League champions to 13 Premier League titles, four FA Cups and two Champions Leagues, his appearance in United’s 5-0 Champions League win over Bayern Leverkusen on Wednesday night means he has now featured for the club 953 times.
And Irwin, who spent 12 years as teammate of Giggs at Old Trafford, is certain they will not be matched.
“That volume of medals will never be broken,” said the former defender. “The number of games? That would take some beating as well.
“What he has done is unbelievable. That kind of longevity at such a top club. This is no run-of-the-mill, mid-table team or one in the Championship. You are talking the very highest level for the last 23 years.
“The amount of games. The number of trophies. The dedication needed to go the distance and challenge yourself every year. To come back for pre-season training and keep going with the same intensity shows what type of player and person he is.”
Irwin, who reached the age of 38 before calling time on his own career, is acutely aware of the effort the United player/coach has put into the latter years of his career.
“At that age, all you need are two or three indifferent games and the end of the horizon starts to come into view,” said Irwin. “To the media you are a veteran and they are ready to pension you off. Mentally you have to deal with that just as much as the physical side.
“I played a lot the year before, but in my final season at Wolves I hardly figured over the last two or three months because I was finding it so tough.
“I know Ryan probably doesn’t play as many games as he would like but you still have to train the same way. You can’t lighten the workload. You need to do exactly the same to show that you can go the pace of the Premier League. For him to continue for the past six or seven years, play the amount of games he has and win all those trophies at the very top level is unbelievable.”