Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes Ryan Giggs "never got the recognition he deserved" during his record-breaking career, as he paid tribute to the Welsh midfielder who celebrates his 40th birthday on Friday.
Giggs's goal in the 1999 FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal has been one of the most iconic moments of his enduring spell at Manchester United, yet that painful experience has not stopped Wenger pouring praise on the 13-time Premier League champion.
With Giggs confirming he is still a force to be reckoned with at the top level of the game after turning in a virtuoso performance in Manchester United's 5-0 win against Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday night, Wenger was gushing in his admiration of the veteran.
"I always thought that Ryan Giggs did not always get the reward or the recognition for his quality and his huge career because he did not play in the World Cup and the European Championship," Wenger told the Arsenal website.
"What he has done is absolutely exceptional. You look at his club career -- it’s absolutely unbelievable. The quality of his performances show a master class at 40. What is very remarkable in his case is that he has turned from being an individual player into being a good passer and a collective player.
"That is a very difficult transformation and that shows you that he not only had individual quality but the intelligence and understanding of the game as well.
"People like Thierry Henry [also] had exceptional qualities. They would run 100 metres in 11 seconds when everybody else did it in 12.5 or 13. So if today they are running it in 12, they are still quicker.
"They start from a huge potential and that’s why at that age they can still survive, because they have the football intelligence. They had exceptional physical qualities at the start."