Wolves' Matt Jarvis: I’m going to be the new Ryan Giggs
MATT Jarvis just about managed to squeeze in time to get some football tips off Ryan Giggs as a football-mad youngster.
The Wolves winger idolised the Manchester United star in between being just about the busiest kid in the whole of Surrey.
Young Matt watched Giggs on instructional DVDs back in the days when just meeting his hero would have been the thrill of a lifetime.
Now, just a few years on, Jarvis, 24, steps out on the same pitch as the Old Trafford legend while being widely tipped as England’s next wing wizard.
It’s a wonder Jarvis found time to sit down and watch the Giggs masterclass on just how he does it.
For the Molineux magician was seemingly born to play sport from the minute he clambered out of his pushchair – as his impressive sporting CV underlines.
Jarvis has a list of sporting achievements almost as long as Giggs’ career and a bulging trophy cabinet as well.
He was Surrey breaststroke champion for four years running and also represented England at cross-country after winning the county championship.
He also won county titles at 800m and 1500m, which also might explain the burst of speed that can leave defenders in his wake.
Yet it’s probably hardly surprising that Jarvis excels at sport given that his parents Nick and Linda were both ranked England No.1 at table tennis.
Mum won the European mixed doubles with Desmond Douglas just for good measure.
Only one thing splits this close family unit – dad Nick follows Middlesbrough, while Matt, bother Ben and mum all follow Sir Alex Ferguson’s Red Devils.
And tonight’s clash is a game he is awaiting with relish – top versus rock-bottom as Wolves see if they can upset the odds and shatter United’s unbeaten Premier League record of 29 games and counting.
Jarvis acknowledges the huge part Giggs played in his formative years as a young footballer who ended up at Gillingham after being rejected by Millwall.
He said: “I didn’t become a winger because of Giggsy – it was where I preferred playing anyway. As I got a bit better at it, I watched him a lot more to try to help my game.
“There’s no better person to learn off – and what a role model.
“I remember him coming through at United. Now to think that he is still in the side and playing to such a fantastic standard, it says everything about him really.
“When he broke through at such a young age, at 17, the potential was there for it all to go wrong.
“But he took everything in his stride, kept his head down and has just kept performing week after week. He has had an incredible career – and it’s not over yet!”
Jarvis added: “For me, Giggs has been just exceptional.
“It’s weird. I used to have all the DVDs of him doing his football schools. Now I’m lining up on the same pitch as him.
“When we were promoted, I had to make a conscious decision not to be in awe of all the big-name players you come up against.
“I just tell myself that it is 11 versus 11. It would be no use any of our players star-gazing, and I think we adjusted well last season when we came up.
“It’s certainly going to be a tough fight now, despite the fact that Wolves have notched up victories against Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea this season.”
The lack of consistency puzzles Jarvis, who added: “It has been a strange season.
“We’ve done really well against some of the top sides and then not always seen it through against sides where we were expected to get something.
“There’s just been no real consistency to the season, but what better side to play than United.
“We are at home, we do well against the top sides and they come here with their unbeaten record intact. Maybe it is meant for us to win.”
Whatever the outcome, Jarvis is convinced that Wolves have what it takes to stay up.
He added: “To me there is nothing better than getting the ball and feeling the crowd pick up on it in anticipation. That’s my game.
“You can feel them urging you ‘Take him on, take him on’ and that drives you.
“There’s nothing better than to get past a full-back and put in a cross for someone to get on to and score.
“That gives me a real buzz and I’d love to do it against United. We’re not kidding ourselves – we need to start picking up points quickly.
“There isn’t a player here who doesn’t realise the seriousness of the situation we find ourselves in, but I honestly do think we’ll stay up.”