Arise Sir Giggsy!

Eloquence is not a virtue one would normally associate with Wayne Rooney, as much a poster-boy for the ASBO generation as a global football icon.

But after his foul-mouthed rant to a TV camera, the latest in a long line of ill-judged actions which earned him a two-match ban, Rooney showed a measure of class this week with a fitting tribute to Manchester United team-mate Ryan Giggs.

"It's incredible what he's done for Manchester United, and what he does for the younger players at the club," said Rooney.

"It's absolutely fantastic to play with him. For me, he's a genius and I don't think it'll be too long before we're calling him Sir Ryan."

Sir Ryan Giggs is a title that seems long overdue for the United legend, who seems to break a record every time he plays and someone whose longevity is all the more remarkable when set against his succession of recent match-winning performances.

United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has exhausted every superlative when it comes to lauding Giggs, who celebrated the 20th anniversary of his debut last month, during which time he has clocked up 870 appearances and scored 158 goals, winning 23 trophies.

But Ferguson was forced to search his brain for more eulogies after the 37-year-old created both goals in United's Champions League quarter-final win over Chelsea on Tuesday - to add to the one he set up in the first leg at Stamford Bridge.

"Ryan's incredible, a unique person and player," said Fergie. "It's a great contribution and his experience and composure were vital to us.

"He's lucky with his physique. He's never carried weight and has got fantastic balance. He looks after himself. He has to. To play at 37 requires great sacrifice."

From the exquisite first touch and acceleration of pace at Stamford Bridge to set up Rooney's opener, to the quick exchange of passes with John O'Shea and cross for Javier Hernandez to score at Old Trafford, as well as the deft flick to Ji-Sung Park for the goal that "knocked the stuffing" out of Chelsea, to quote Giggs himself, United's most decorated player showed just why he remains a man for all seasons.

The majestic ball Giggs played to Park for United's crucial second goal against Chelsea was almost identical to the one he fed to Michael Owen for United's dramatic 96th-minute winner in the epic 4-3 Manchester derby win of last season. Familiar, yes, but no less effective.

Age has brought a new, more considered dimension to his game. No longer the rampaging left-winger who terrorised defenders with his surging pace and wizardry in possession, Giggs has re-invented himself as a central midfielder of sophistication, maturity and enduring class.

His reading and understanding of the subtle nuances of games allows him to visualise openings closed off to other players, while his enduring technical ability enables him to carry out what is in his head, with devastating consequences for opposing teams.

In the absence of a clear favourite for Footballer of the Year, Giggs - last season's winner - is the outstanding candidate yet again, more so than the autumn talents of other contenders like Samir Nasri, Carlos Tevez, Charlie Adam or Gareth Bale, all of whom had peaked by the turn of the year.

But for consistently high performance levels over the course of a season and the ability to rise to the big occasion and dictate games, just as he did against Chelsea over two legs, is there a more worthy candidate than Giggs for the season's individual honour?

Yet, as Rooney mentioned in his tribute to Giggs, his influence extends way beyond the pitch, to an almost paternal role in nurturing United's younger players, ensuring they get the maximum benefit from his two decades of peerless success and application.

That, as much as the commanding influence he continues to exert on the field in big games, is why United did not hesitate in handing Giggs a one-year contract extension that will see him play on until the end of next season at least.

Giggs is a player whose majesty transcends football's traditional tribal boundaries. Opposing fans may goad and taunt him, but behind that facade of abuse there is a grudging recognition of his greatness, a player they would dearly love to see in the shirt of their own team.

So it can only be a matter of time before Giggs joins United's triumvirate of knights - Sir Alex, Sir Matt Busby and Sir Bobby Charlton - in having the honour bestowed upon him by the Queen. And not before time. Arise, Sir Ryan.

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