Welsh wizard to spend 40th birthday dreaming of more European glory
Ryan Giggs is preparing to spend his 40th birthday in bed -- to avoid Manchester United's practical jokers and dream of becoming the oldest outfield player in a Champions League final.
The Welshman reaches his milestone birthday today with United manager David Moyes claiming the midfielder is continuing to improve with age following his outstanding performance during the 5-0 victory at Bayer Leverkusen.
Despite being elevated to the coaching staff under Moyes, Giggs could yet be offered a new contract at the end of the season to extend his playing career by 12 months, with his recent performances belying his miles on the clock.
But rather than look forward to being feted by his team-mates today, Giggs' fear of being the victim of dressing-room pranksters could force him to hide under the duvet.
"I'm not coming in on Friday," Giggs said. "I'm going to stay in bed I think, just in case. I will be glad when the day is over. Obviously, it is a big milestone, but I try not to think about it too much.
"I'm enjoying my football and that's the main thing. Obviously you've got to work hard during the week, put in the performances in training and hopefully you get picked. And when you are picked it is just like when you are younger really, you have to take your chance."
Giggs' contribution to United's victory against Leverkusen, who are second in the Bundesliga behind Bayern Munich, prompted amazement from the home side, with Wayne Rooney revealing that the veteran's performance was the subject of conversation on the pitch.
"During the game, their centre-half was asking how he is still playing at that age," Rooney said. "It's great to see him with his composure on the ball -- it's fantastic.
"Ryan has done it for years and I've run out of things to say about him. I don't know how he is still doing it."
Having beaten one of Germany's most consistent teams in Leverkusen, United will secure top spot in Group A, and therefore avoid second-round ties against the likes of Bayern, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Paris St-Germain, if they claim a point at home to second-placed Shakhtar Donetsk next month.
Such an outcome would improve United's prospects of progressing to the latter stages of the Champions League and Giggs, who has played in four finals, believes Moyes' squad are capable of taking him to a fifth by reaching next May's final in Lisbon.
"If we play like we did against Leverkusen, we can (reach the final)," Giggs said. "If we put on performances like that, then who knows? We can go a long way.
"We've seen the speed and the quality we had up front, but we were also missing a lot of quality and experienced players in Robin van Persie, Nemanja Vidic and Michael Carrick.
"It was good for the lads who maybe haven't had their chance this season. They have taken it, so now it is up to them to stay in the team.
"We have built experience over the years and we have some youngsters coming through, like Adnan (Januzaj), Phil Jones and Chris Smalling, who haven't played much in Europe.
"But you are playing against the best in Europe and it's a tournament in which you have got to perform, otherwise you won't get anywhere."
Meanwhile, Rio Ferdinand has admitted he is prepared to wait until the end of the season before resolving his future at United.
Although United have recently handed new contracts to Michael Carrick, Nani and Januzaj, with plans afoot to negotiate new terms with Nemanja Vidic and Rooney, Ferdinand has yet to discuss extending his contract, which expires in the summer.
But having signed a one-year deal at the end of last season, the 35-year-old insists he has no qualms about playing for his future.
"I don't know what will happen," Ferdinand said. "Last season, I was being asked the same question and I said I would wait until the end of the season. We won the league and I felt great and the club offered me a new contract, which I was delighted to sign.
"This season will be the same. We will get to the end of the season and evaluate, but if the club wants me and I feel good, then I am always here." (© Daily Telegraph, London)