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Mar 1, 2011

Giggs approaches 20-year landmark

Ryan Giggs believes the quality of players at Manchester United has been the key to his longevity as he approaches the 20-year anniversary of his professional debut.

Giggs, 37, remains an important part of the United squad despite his advancing years and he signed a one-year contract extension last month.

"It helps having good players around you," he told the Daily Telegraph as he approaches Wednesday's landmark. "I've also played for Wales and, playing for Wales and playing for United, I know the difference.

"It's a lot easier when you have quality around you, especially when you become older and rely on legs around you. If I didn't have that, I'm sure I would have finished two or three years ago."

Having been involved in tabloid controversy in his youth, Giggs has also settled into a clean-living lifestyle.

On his reputation as football's Mr Clean, he said: "I never said that! But it has changed throughout my career, from first coming into the team, with the hype, celebrity girlfriends and photographers following you home. I just made a conscious decision that I didn't really like it and just wanted to keep a low profile.

"I remember in my first full season, the Today newspaper did a week-long sort of feature, delving into my family, my dad's family, the rift between my mum and dad - it wakes you up quite quickly and toughens you up.

"Of course, I went out with a few girls who were famous, and you get photographers following you. I was 18 or 19 at the time and didn't like it.

"It is probably harder now because the information is there on things like Twitter and Facebook. As soon as something happens, it's there, around the world. But still you can shy away from that. If you live a relatively quiet life then you can concentrate on your football."

Giggs says, though, that there is a downside to such dedication to the game. Having seen United narrowly lose the title to Chelsea last season, he found it difficult to enjoy his time off in the summer.

"We lost by one point last year and it stays with you," he said. "You go away on holiday, you're lying on the beach trying to enjoy yourself with the kids, and you do, but then you have a quiet moment, it comes back to you what happened and, I'll say it, you're ****** off.

"You're on holiday and you're just pissed off. Last year, when Chelsea won the Double ... it winds you up, you don't want it to happen again. I don't want to feel like I did last summer. You see footballers with the flash cars and lots of money, but the players who win things, it doesn't come into the reckoning.

"There are also teams where avoiding relegation is success and there a lot of players who care, but then again, there are probably players who go the other way."

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