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Feb 28, 2013

Harrison: Giggs was always a genius

Former Manchester United youth team coach Eric Harrison says he did not have to do much to turn Ryan Giggs into a world-class player for the club as he showed ''genius'' from an early age.

• Blog: Rewind to Giggs' testimonial

As the 39-year-old Giggs closes on his 1,000th appearance for United, his huge trophy haul and 64 Wales caps have made him one of the Premier League all-time great players.

However, Harrison, who was responsible for United's famed 'Class of 92' of which Giggs was the forerunner, claims the Welshman was always on course for greatness.

"We watched him playing schoolboy football for Salford Boys at Old Trafford. He would have been about 15,'' he said at the FA Community Awards. "It was unbelievable. He was a genius.

"It is very rare you can identify someone at that age who you just knew was going to make it. He was one. He simply took my breath away. He had such pace and balance it was astonishing.''

Sir Alex Ferguson, who famously described Giggs as being like a "cocker spaniel chasing a piece of silver paper in the wind,'' may have given him the guidance he needed to succeed, but Harrison also believes that Giggs benefited from grassroots coaching.

"People have asked me many times what I did with Ryan Giggs,'' he said. "The answer is not much really. We did teach him how to play in a team and how to defend as well as attack.

"Also, whilst it is fairly obvious to say Ryan's greatest quality was running with the ball, we got him to concentrate on running with it in the opponents' half rather than his own. It was just little things like that because when you have the ability he has, you are just tinkering.''

Even back then, Giggs showed character traits that have helped him to achieve the staggering feats now accepted as commonplace. A desire for knowledge and a need to look after his body were two of the most obvious.

"The overriding point was that he wanted to play for Manchester United's first team,'' added Harrison. "He wouldn't let anything get in the way of that. I still feel an immense amount of pride when I see him play.

"No one could have guessed he would go on to achieve what he has though. That is simply unbelievable.''

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