Giggs crowned by fellow pros

RYAN GIGGS has been named Professional Footballers’ Association Player of the Year, the first time he has won the award in his glittering career.

The 35-year-old had picked up the Young Player’s award twice and has now been voted for the top accolade by his fellow professionals following his exemplary season, which looks likely to end with his 11th Premier League title.

“It’s right up there, with personal accolades it’s the best to have as it’s voted by your fellow players,” Giggs said. “I’ve been fortunate to win a lot of trophies, I won the Young Player award twice, but this is the big one.”

Giggs has only started 12 league games this season but has been a regular in the squad for all competitions, with the award acknowledging the respect he has from opponents.

If he plays against Arsenal in the Champions League semi-final first leg this week, it will be his 800th appearance for United, although the landmark is not as important to him as adding to his trophy haul.

“It’s an exciting season,” he said. “I think it is going to go right to the wire, there’s big game after big game now. That is what you want and need at a club like Manchester United.”

Giggs paid tribute to his manager, Alex Ferguson, and also suggested he may play on beyond his current contract, which expires at the end of next season.

“The manager has been massive in my career from when I first met him when I was 13,” Giggs said. “That’s over 20 years and he knows me better than anyone and our relationship has been brilliant and just gets better.

“I’ve been so fortunate to have such a great career in so many great teams, it’s not even worth thinking about what it would have been like without the manager.”

The Welshman has started taking his coaching badges, which may be a hint at the future, but he added: “As long as I’m getting picked, enjoying it and injury-free, I’ll carry on as long as I can. At 35 you can’t look too far into the distance, you just can’t.”

Aston Villa winger Ashley Young beat midfielder Stephen Ireland to the Young Player of the Year award. “It’s a massive achievement for the club and my team-mates around me,” Young said. “It’s a great honour and I’m delighted.”

John McDermott, the former Grimsby player who spent 20 years at the club, was given the Merit award.

Meanwhile, Michael Owen admits Newcastle are facing “the acid test” of their Premier League credentials in tonight’s clash with fellow strugglers Portsmouth.

The Tynesiders are three points adrift of safety and Owen said: “This is a game we are expected to win, so it is our acid test. We need to win.”

PFA Team of the Year: Van der Sar (Man Utd), G Johnson (Portsmouth), Ferdinand (Man Utd), Vidic (Man Utd), Evra (Man Utd), A Young (A Villa), Gerrard (Liverpool), Giggs (Man Utd), Ronaldo (Man Utd), Anelka (Chelsea), Torres (Liverpool).


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