Giggs: Manchester United apprenticeship toughened me up

The veteran winger, who celebrates his 40th birthday on Friday, believes the strictness of the youth system at Old Trafford has been key to the longevity of his career
Ryan Giggs believes a tough apprenticeship at Manchester United helped make him the player he is today.

The Welshman, who turned 40 on Friday, is the Premier League's most decorated player and was a member of the fabled Old Trafford 'Class of '92', which also produced players such as David Beckham and Gary Neville.

But Giggs - the fourth oldest player in Premier League history - believes that times have changed since he was coming through the academy system as a young player.

"I think if you asked most players of my era, that is something they would like to see come back," he told the Daily Mail. "It gave you discipline, that sort of ethos of working hard and the desire to be a success.

"You worked hard to make the most of yourself.

"The Cliff [former United training ground] is crawling with history. We would get there at 8am, stay until 5pm or 6pm.

"You'd train morning and afternoon; then you would do your jobs, pumping balls up, cleaning dressing rooms, polishing boots or whatever.

"All those things have gone: like sweeping the dressing room and making sure the boots were done. If they weren't, you got told.

"The aim was to get into the first-team dressing room. We had a lot of fiery characters - [Peter] Schmeichel, [Paul] Ince, [Roy] Keane. They would let you know if you let them down.

"But they always pulled in the right direction, doing things for the right reason.

"It was a tough school but it was one you knew if you got through it, you could face anything. You didn’t forget what you learned there."

Giggs, who made his debut in 1991, has no plans to celebrate his birthday too much, as he settles into his new role at Old Trafford.

The former wing wizard was promoted to the club's coaching staff following the arrival of new boss David Moyes in the close-season, and he says it is an experience he is relishing.

"I'm sure I will get a bit of stick off the lads [on his birthday]. I tried to keep it quiet but that has been impossible," he continued. "Am I dreading it? I’ve just got to attack it, haven't I? I can't worry about it too much.

"Nothing has changed for me. I still enjoy it. I still enjoy training. As soon as that stops, I will finish. It will be as simple as that.

"Obviously the change with Sir Alex [Ferguson] going was massive, but I am enjoying it. I am enjoying the  coaching role. David is a great manager and a great coach.

"This is a landmark birthday but it’s not something I will dwell upon. There won’t be any mad celebrations. I am always someone who tries to look forward."