Cole lauds ‘phenomenal' Giggs' 900 appearances

Dubai: Manchester United legend Andy Cole has paid tribute to former teammate Ryan Giggs after the veteran Welshman racked up his 900th appearance for the club at the weekend.

Giggs, who has been playing for the Old Trafford outfit since 1991, fittingly crowned the incredible landmark with the winning goal as United edged past Norwich City to keep up the pressure on title rivals Manchester City on Sunday.

Cole won five Premier League titles, two FA Cups and the UEFA Champions League alongside Giggs during his goal-laden spell at the club between 1995 and 2001.

And Cole, who was in Dubai yesterday to promote United and DHL's ongoing Champions Trophy Tour, said: "It's phenomenal, absolutely phenomenal.

"Giggsy's still playing at the highest level and he's still such an integral part of the team. He knows he's not going to play every game, but when he does play — the way he plays, the consistency he plays with, he still has a big part to play.

"And you see Scholesy [Paul Scholes] is back as well and doing the same. You've got to take your hat off to those two boys. Any young aspiring players who want to play Premiership football or want to extend their careers as long as they can, you've got to look at those two.

"When they're left out of the team, they don't have a go at the manager or make all sorts of sounds to try and get the punters on their side. They know what to expect. They've been brilliant for the club."

Cole and fellow ex-United star Lee Sharpe appeared in Dubai as part of the Champions Trophy Tour, which is taking the Premier League trophy — that United won for a record 19th time last season — to 27 countries around the world.

Former winger Sharpe was part of the Red Devils team that won the league title in 1993 — their first in 26 years — which began their avalanche of titles under Sir Alex Ferguson, which now stands at 12.

"When we won the first one after 26 years, I don't think anybody thought 19 was ever going to come, never mind so quickly," the 40-year-old said.

"I think it's been a phenomenal 20 years, the way that the manager's still got his drive and desire and how the teams have changed over the years, it's absolutely incredible. Who knows where it's going to stop — but I don't think it will be at 19. It was a huge achievement to get that first one and I think the reason that we won it was because the season before, we lost it to Leeds. I think sometimes you've got to go through that."

Express and logistics company DHL are taking the trophy around the world and yesterday it landed at the Shangri-La Hotel on Shaikh Zayed Road.

Frank-Uwe Ungerer, country manager of DHL Express in the UAE, said: "The visit of Manchester United's Champions Trophy Tour to Dubai provides us with a unique opportunity to showcase DHL's behind-the-scenes operations with Manchester United to our key customers and staff locally, and it was great for our customers and staff to have the opportunity to meet Andy Cole and Lee Sharpe and to see the Premier League trophy up close."