Unprofessional Foul


July 19, 2010

Ryan Giggs: Best Ever? It’s Not That Daft

Great player or the greatest player?

So Wes Brown called Ryan Giggs the best Man Utd. has ever had. Is he crazy? Or crazy like a fox?

It’s no secret that Ryan Giggs is my favorite player of all time, but when I saw the quotes from Brown, I thought maybe he had injured his brain under that ginger hair.

“I know it is going to sound daft this but I would have to say Giggsy. Of course, you have got the likes of Maradona and Pelé who were world-class players, but for me it is Giggsy. His overall game and his achievements are just incredible,” Brown said.

He has a point, but just to be fair, Pele played with Santos from 1958-1973 and had more than 600 goals in 656 appearances for the club before heading to the New York Cosmos. As for Maradona, I’ll give this one to Brown. Maradona played with seven different clubs, scoring 311 in 490 matches. Giggs’ success at the club level is greater than Maradona’s, and it could be argued that if you break down all the stats over time, Giggs has had a better, more consistent career than Maradona did.

Brown continues: “You get one-offs every now and again and he’s certainly one of them. To have performed consistently well at the top level for such a long time and stayed with one team is amazing. It is difficult to think of anyone else like Ryan; Sir Bobby [Charlton] is probably the only other player to compare with Giggsy.”

On this point, I tend to agree. Giggs has 156 goals in 838 appearances for Manchester United, but his success has been so much more than that. Remember that he’s eighth on the all-time list for the Red Devils from a winger position on a side that, for many years, expected its wingers to set up goals, not score them (TACTICS!). That Giggs has spent almost 20 years as the top choice on one of the two wings has to say something about his quality, as his speed, his guile and his work rate have allowed him to stay relevant after the rest of that vaunted generation of United players have slid into obscurity.

I think the biggest reason Giggs isn’t counted among the best of all time is because he plays for Wales and, therefore, has never even sniffed a World Cup or Euro tournament. The legends of Pele and Maradona were made with their countries, not with their clubs. Giggs hasn’t had that luxury.

Now, I’m not going to say Giggs is the best player of all time. It’s apples and oranges and different eras and so on. But in the argument for best in Man United history? You have to put him up there with George Best and Sir Bobby Charlton. If he’s not the best ever, he’s certainly one of the two best ever.

All of this said, it would be a horrible move for an MLS team to bring Giggs to the league. As much as I love him, he’s on the definite downslope of his career. Bringing him over would be the epitome of the old NASL approach, and it would be bad for him and the league.

So you’re not that daft, Wes Brown. Just don’t get hurt anytime soon, OK? Thanks.

About the Author

The Stretford End


  1. I love Ryan Giggs. Never having the opportunity to watch George Best or Bobby Charlton play, Giggsy gets my vote.
    If you haven’t already, check out this post at The Run of Play. It raises similar questions about Greatness and its relationship to the World Cup.

  2. Precious Roy

    “Now, I’m not going to say Giggs is the best player of all time”… nor should any sane person. It’s not even an apples thing. Giggs isn’t even in the conversation.

  3. Look at his career. You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who has had a better club career. Ever.

  4. hadley

    He is a great servant for the club and all. But no way is he up there with all-time greats. Man Utd Greats, sure. But that is different. I’d still rather have Cantona, Beckham, Cole, Hughes, and more from the “Giggs era” if I had to pick only one.

  5. ManU’s best player ever is clearly Fabien Barthez.

  6. I thought it was Diego Forlan.

  7. Scottie Pippen had a great club career–while Jordan was in town with him and Phil Jackson was coaching. He was even “good enough” to be added to the 50th Anniversary All-Time greats NBA team. He wasn’t as great when he didn’t have greatness around him.

    I see nothing different here. Giggs is very good, not great. He has yet to even be the best player on his team for any given season. He is an all-star. He is an HoFer. Best ever? No way.

  8. Precious Roy

    But umlaut… he was the PFA Player of the Year last year. And he got it for scoring all of one goal! That must mean he’s the bestest ever.

    Maybe this post should have been about whether Wes Brown is the dumbest footballer ever.

  9. Look, PR and umlaut: I admit the PFA award was crap. I’m just throwing it out there. I don’t think it’s THAT far out of the realm of reality. And yes, I’m biased, but still…

  10. @NYK, TFA, TSE: Don’t forget Kleberson and Djemba-Djemba! HAHA! It’s funny because we’re naming bad players instead of good ones!

  11. @umlaut: I don’t think your Pippen analogy works. Giggs has performed at a consistently excellent level throughout his career, regardless of his teammates. Yes, he’s never been the ‘star’ player. But even in years when ManU didn’t win the title, you can’t criticize Giggs’s performances.

  12. whizalen

    djemba-djemba was a BEAST on fifa. don’t take that away from him.

  13. I’d actually compare Giggs to Derek Jeter. Great player for sure, Hall of Famer for sure, but never going to be in the conversation for Greatest Player Ever. Unlike Pippen, you know he’d be great for whatever team he happened to play for. But there’s a reason he plays for the best team in the league, and has done so consistently throughout his career. Even if he’s not the ARod of the team.

  14. I think it does. A player who put together a pretty good career floating on the superior play of others and the best coaching in the league. Difference being that Pippen was found out when he tried to do it on his own.

  15. Anonsters

    Also, Jeter > ARod, you heathen.

  16. @LE: Pippen was pretty good without Jordan. He didn’t win a title but he was still pretty darn good.

  17. @LE – WHAT? I was serious about Barthez!

  18. @anon: As a Yankees fan, I pick Jeter over ARod every time. But ARod is one of the all time greatest home run hitters ever and will be in that “Greatest Players Ever” conversation some day.

  19. Ryan

    @LE: Along with a big fat *

  20. Georger

    “You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who has had a better club career. Ever.”

    Not really, his name is Paolo Maldini.

  21. @umlaut: Pippen wasn’t found out. He was already 33 when he went to Houston, and for a small forward, that’s on the way down. Also, in his first year in Portland, he had a top-5 year of his career in steals, assists and rebounds. He averaged double figures scoring until his final year.

    Giggs doesn’t give you the flash or the stats, but he’s consistent and quality.

  22. bergkampesdios

    Gary Speed – 677 appearances, 103 goals.
    Ryan Giggs – 588 appearances, 108 goals.

    Now I’m not saying that Speed was as good as Giggs, but it could be argued (never had the same talent or coaching around him). And because it could be argued, Giggs isn’t even a lock for best Welshman, let alone best ever.

    Wes is high. Plain and simple.

  23. Clemantona

    If giggs is the best ever then it’s because cantona taught him how to be the best ever and as such, cantona is the best ever

  24. @Georger: Italy doesn’t count. :-)

  25. Georger

    Fine then. Phil Neal. Eight league title and four European Cups.

  26. Georger

    “Giggs isn’t even a lock for best Welshman”
    Ian Rush.

  27. bergkampesdios

    Georger – exactly.

  28. corky

    This thread is fun. Why can’t people just say, “Great player, great servant of the club, a legend at ManU, who handled himself with class.” Because that’s what he is and that’s a pretty great thing to be known for.

  29. Georger

    Or John Charles

  30. Georger

    Or Robbie Savage. Or Robbie Savage’s hair.

  31. bergkampesdios

    corky – well said. I hate Man U with every fiber in my body, and it’s impossible not to respect Ryan Giggs. Pure class.

  32. Anonsters

    Or Gareth Bale!!
    /shut up

  33. Ryan Giggs may not be the best ever, but what about Joey Barton? He says he’s as good as anybody in the country. I guess given England’s World Cup performance, he might be right.

  34. Goat

    @LE: That caption for the photo accompanying the article is great: “Joey Barton is a controversial figure.” Also, beer is a popular beverage amongst football fans.

  35. Georger

    Wouldn’t there have to be people who don’t think he is an a**hole for it to be controversial? Or are they just counting Barton himself as the one voice of dissent?

  36. Jamie Tandy thinks he’s a great bloke with fine taste in cigars.

  37. the truth

    Giggs IS the best british footballer of all time and the 3rd best footbaler of all time
    859 games 158 goals estimated 377 assists
    11 titles (12 soon) 3 european trophies 4 fa cups 4 league cups world club cup bbc sportsman of year players player of the year etc
    he has scored or created a goal with ast pass in 560 games out of 858 67% of games over 21 seasons he he scores or creates a goal. and hes more exciting than anyone ese. for a winger its ridicuous. untouachable unreachable incomparable.

  38. Paul Doble

    I am Tottenham fan of 40 years – Certainly no friend of Man U – As an impartial Id have Ryan Giggs up there with the greatest of all time world wide – Just imagine what a side England would have been with Giggs on the left – Its difficult to compare era’s but look at footage of George Best and compare it to Giggs – Everything Best could do Giggs certainly could also and at nearly 38 he is still one of Man U’s best players – Who else could you say that about in the history of the game, Matthews perhaps, very few indeed – Trully an all time great

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