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Giggs puts sorry 'stars' in shade.

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Following the news that Ashley '$170,000-a-week' Cole decided it was a good idea to shoot a Chelsea intern with an air rifle from five feet, it would be too easy to condemn all footballers as egotistical, money-grabbing idiots.

However, today serves as a reminder that there are still some players around who care about their clubs more than themselves, and whose heads aren't located far up their backsides.

On March 2, 1991, Ryan Giggs made his Manchester United debut, and 20 years on the wonder winger is still playing at Old Trafford.

In the current football environment that's up there with Andy Carroll being worth $56 million in the sheer jaw-dropping stakes.

In an era of egomaniacal footballers, Carroll and 'Cashley' being just two of way too many, Giggs stands out as one of the few who's flashier on the pitch than he is off it. He's won a record 11 Premier League titles, four FA Cups, four League Cups and two European Cups in 862 appearances for the Reds, during which time he's scored 158 goals. Not a bad record, is it? And one that alone separates him from his peers.

But what really stands out is the manner in which he's gone about collecting his personal trophy cabinet - one that is far more impressive than Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester City's combined.

When you think of Giggs you don't recall any late nights in clubs, any salacious stories hogging up space at the front end of the tabloids, any not turning up to drug tests, any holding United to ransom when a new contract was being negotiated; these days you cannot be considered a top-class Premier League player without at least one of those 'badges of honour'. Nope, Giggs is that rarity, someone who is as good as his word.

Now, I am not totally naive to think he's not been paid very well for sticking around at Old Trafford.

But there's little doubt he could have increased his earning power by moving clubs.

But his focus was on something other than his bank balance and becoming a celebrity.

"When I made my debut, I was on YTS, earning [pounds sterling]29.50 a week, and [pounds sterling]10 expenses. Forty quid, and I was in the first team. It didn't bother me," Giggs said last year.

"I didn't become a footballer to be famous, I became footballer to be successful. I didn't want to be famous."

Both statements you wouldn't hear from 'Cashley' and Co. Indeed, before last night's clash between Chelsea and United, it was reported Cole's team-mate, the equally ridiculous Didier Drogba, would leave west London if not picked in the starting line-up - an example of another player just in it for himself.

Now I am well aware I may appear to be a curmudgeonly old fogie writing this, someone well older than his 32 years of age.

But there's something deeply annoying about today's footballers - they're paid too much, don't care about the fans or the clubs they profess to love, and swallow whole the hype that's constantly thrown in their direction.

Giggs, like his manager Sir Alex Ferguson, is a throwback to another era.

Everything he's won, and earned, he's fully deserved - a loyal, brilliant footballer and possibly the last of his kind.

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Publication:7 Days (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Article Type:Reprint
Date:Mar 2, 2011
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