Sunday, 29 November 2009
Sunday night is 'Now we are sixty-one we...
....salute Ryan Giggs, whose birthday it also is.
C shares hers with Robert Burns but I am very happy to share mine with (Sir) Ryan. I think he is the most wonderful footballer of my adult life. He has in body and spirit what I would wish for my poetry. And, as a player, he is as honest as they come. Even those who hate the team admire Giggs, because what, after all, is there not to admire? I am sorry he could never enjoy greater fame for the international team but do admire him for sticking with Wales, not because Wales is a better entity than England but because there is an admirable way of being true to where you feel you belong, and his is admirable.
It is ten years now since that extraordinary solo goal against Arsenal (included in the video), which is up there with any solo goal you are ever like to see, and that includes Maradona and Messi, and what is more, at a more dramatic stage of the proceedings than either. But it's not just the solo graces, but the team graces. When he is playing even half-way to his best, the team changes, has more energy, more imagination.
Most players of his kind - fast, light, elusive - have retired by the time they are thirty or so. To begin with they have been cut down so often they are injured out of the game. And of course they lose speed. And the sheer will and concentration. He is thirty-six today, same age as Lord Byron when he died. Lord Giggsy. Not bad, not mad, and not dangerous to know unless you are the defender marking him.