Playing at United prolonged my career, says Ryan Giggs
London: Ryan Giggs believes the stability of playing for Manchester United throughout his career has allowed him to extend his playing days until his 40th birthday.
Giggs turns 40 on Friday but his performances remain of such a high standard that United manager David Moyes is already hinting the Welsh midfielder could continue to play on next season.
If Giggs does sign an extension to his current contract his first-team career with United will have reached 24 years and, injury permitting, allow him to hit the 1,000 game milestone.
But Giggs admits it could have been so different had he ever opted to sever ties with the club where he made his name, as fellow United youth-team graduates David Beckham, Nicky Butt and Phil Neville all discovered on leaving Old Trafford.
"If I`d moved from club to club I`d be finished by now," Giggs said after shining in Wednesday`s 5-0 Champions League win at Bayer Leverkusen.
"I`m lucky that I have been at one club, where I am surrounded by good players. I also have a good manager.
"I look after myself and try to train every day in order to make myself available for selection.
"I enjoy it as much as I can and, of course, try to contribute to the team."
Only once, since he made his debut against Everton in 1991 has it appeared possible Giggs would leave United.
In the wake of a trophyless campaign in 2002, there was talk of a big-money move to Italy after a series of disappointing displays from the winger.
But Giggs has always said he was never made aware of any interest from other clubs and it didn`t take long to emerge from his difficulties.
Since then he has won six more titles, a Champions League and the FA Cup, but his appetite for success and desire to prove himself against his younger team-mates and opponents remains as strong as ever.
"I don`t know what the younger lads think of me," Giggs said. "When I was 17 and 18 I thought 31 was ancient. Here I am at 40.
"It can be hard sometimes but I am still enjoying it.
"As long as that is the case I will carry on."
Giggs is happy to concede he can no longer cover the ground in the same way as he did during his heyday as a jet-heeled left winger.
Instead he tries to influence the game with his astute passing and reading of the play from more central areas, while younger colleagues like Phil Jones do the running for him.
"It is a pleasure to play alongside someone like Phil Jones," said Giggs.
"He does my running for me. All I do is try and control it all."