London: Manchester United veteran Ryan Giggs celebrates his 40th birthday on Friday, when he will join a select band of players to have continued playing elite-level football into their fifth decade.
Here, AFP Sports selects five of the most memorable goals from his extraordinary 22-year professional career:
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1 MANCHESTER UNITED 1 (Premier League, September 1992)
- Giggs`s first great individual goal, scored when he was 18, announced his arrival as one of the first stars of the freshly launched Premier League. Spurs defender Dean Austin miscontrols a high ball on his chest and Giggs sweeps in to steal possession before impudently nutmegging Jason Cundy, flying past goalkeeper Ian Walker, and slamming the ball into an empty net from a prohibitive angle on the left.
QUEENS PARK RANGERS 2 MANCHESTER UNITED 3 (Premier League, February 1994)
- Another slaloming solo strike, this effort at Loftus Road demonstrated why the young Giggs was being spoken about in the same breath as United great George Best. Seizing on a loose ball in the QPR half, Giggs rides a tackle from Ray Wilkins, jags inside a challenge from Darren Peacock and then surges goalwards before firing past Jan Stejsdal as a pair of frantically back-tracking defenders collide in the box.
ARSENAL 1 MANCHESTER UNITED 2 (FA Cup semi-final replay, April 1999)
- Giggs`s most famous goal settled a pulsating cup tie at Villa Park and paved the way for a Treble of Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup trophies. In extra time, and with United down to 10 men following the dismissal of Roy Keane, a lazy crossfield pass from Patrick Vieira gifts Giggs possession. He is 10 yards inside his half when he receives the ball, but he twists his way past Vieira, Lee Dixon, Martin Keown and Dixon again before planting a vicious shot into the roof of David Seaman`s net.
JUVENTUS 0 MANCHESTER UNITED 3 (Champions League second group stage, February 2003)
- Unable to play in international tournaments due to Wales`s repeated qualifying failures, Giggs often reserves his best performances for the Champions League, and in particular, games against the great Italian teams. With a goal to his name already, he intercepts a pass from Antonio Conte and drives downfield, before drifting into the penalty area from left to right and rolling a precise shot into the bottom-left corner with his unfavoured right foot.
MANCHESTER UNITED 1 CHELSEA 2 (League Cup semi-final, January 2005)
- A display of the technical refinement that has characterised the latter stages of Giggs`s career. Gary Neville floats a high ball over the top of the Chelsea defence and Giggs jumps to flick the deftest of volleys over goalkeeper Petr Cech with the outside of his left foot.