Main Man Is Ryan Giggs Not Lionel Messi, says Gary Speed
GARY SPEED insists there will be only one legend on show at Wembley today – and it’s not Lionel Messi.
Manchester United must succeed where all other sides have failed this season and stop Messi in the battle to see who is crowned European champions.
Messi has produced a stunning season to cement his place as the undisputed No.1 player on the planet.
The Argentine superstar has plundered a remarkable 52 goals to fire Barca to the La Liga title and leave them on the brink of a second Champions League triumph in the last three years.
But while most of the attention will be on Messi ahead of the crunch clash, Wales boss Speed reckons United have their own footballing god in the shape of Ryan Giggs.
The United ace continues to set records that are unlikely to be broken as he gets set for his fourth European Cup Final at the age of 37.
And Speed is convinced that Giggs is still the main man when it comes to the biggest stage of all. Speed, who played alongside Giggs for Wales, said: “Ryan is still one of the very best, if not the best – and he’s 37.
“He’s adapted to this role of central midfield now and shown people just how comfortable he is in there. “To be honest, he’s made that role his own but he could have played there when he was a teenager, he was that good.
“Messi is definitely right up there, in my opinion. For the past two or three years he’s been absolutely phenomenal.
“He seems like a decent lad, too. He could be at Barcelona for the next decade and if he does, he’ll be one of the all-time greats – up there with the likes of Pele and Maradona.
“But what Ryan has done is unbelievable. His record is better than anyone who has ever played the game.
“It doesn’t surprise me though. I know better than most how he looks after himself and what he does to be a success.
“I did a lot of yoga when I was playing at Newcastle and Bolton, and I chatted to Ryan about it all. “But I think he started all that before I did. It’s something that helped me to carry on and it’s certainly helped Ryan continue to the age he has.
“Along with Bobby Charlton and Kenny Dalglish, I’d say he’s up there as the best British player of all time and certainly the best the Premier League has seen.
“You can only judge greatness on achievement and while I’m sure Messi will go on to win a lot more in his career, Ryan has won the lot several times over.
“He’s achieved a lot more and is still going, so he’s up there as one of the best ever.”
Speed will be glued to the TV to see if United can plot Barca’s downfall and help Sir Alex Ferguson land his third European Cup to match the legendary Bob Paisley.
But he reckons it will be a tall order for the Premier League champions to upset the odds and overcome Pep Guardiola’s favourites.
He added: “The game has generated a lot of opinions, which is what makes it so interesting. “The truth is, if Barcelona perform to the levels they know they are capable of then they will take some beating.
“But I think in the last couple of weeks Barcelona have looked a bit jaded and tired. United are high on confidence and will play their natural game.
“Sir Alex has so much belief in his team so you just wouldn’t back against them.”