A proud Ryan Giggs has prepared for his 1,000th senior game by thanking the Real Madrid supporters for applauding him on to the pitch for the first leg of their Champions League clash with Manchester United.
The 39-year-old winger admits he was surprised and touched by the ovation he was affordedduring the 1-1 draw at the Bernabeu and declared that it was a special moment for him.
And United manager Sir Alex Ferguson confirmed that Giggs, who was rested for Saturday's 4-0 win over Norwich, will feature in the second leg at Old Trafford on Tuesday, though he is yet to decide whether to give his oldest player a start.
Giggs has made 931 appearances for United, played 64 times for Wales and on four occasions for Great Britain's Olympic side and will reach the landmark that he never thought possible against the Spanish champions.
He said: "I'm obviously proud of playing that many games. You set out different goals at the start. First you want to get in the team then stay in it and then win things. You never think you are going to get to 1,000 games.
"I have worked hard and had a lot of things go for me, the continuity of the manager and playing with good players. As I have got older, I have taken more things in and I remember the second Champions League [win in 2008] more than 1999."
His standing in world football was reflected by the fans of Real Madrid, the most successful club in the history of the European Cup, three weeks ago.
And he added: "It was strange. I did recognise it but it was only after I really thought about. It was great for me and I thank the Madrid fans for the welcome they did give me. You go on the Bernabeu pitch and get clapped by the Madrid fans and it was something special for me."
Ferguson said he had saved Giggs to keep him fresh for Real, explaining: "He will be involved at some point, whether starting or from the bench, I haven't made my mind up. His experience on big occasions will be vital to us."
Last week, Giggs signed a one-year extension to his current contract, which had been due to expire at the end of this season. The new deal means that the United youth product will represent the club past his 40th birthday in November.