Q&A: Giggs' derby memories
Ahead of another eagerly anticipated Manchester derby on Sunday, Ryan Giggs tells ManUtd.com how he hasn't looked back since joining United from City as a youngster more than two decades ago...
If you play on Sunday, you will have made more Manchester derby appearances than any other player. How does that make you feel?
I didn't realise that! It’s great to play in these sorts of games. For the first part of my career we won all of them, more or less, but over the last four or five years it’s been different – they’ve had a bit of success and so have we. They are massive games for the fans and the rivalry is huge, but it’s also important for us to get the three points.
What are your best derby memories?
I have a few good derby memories but my best one is probably coming back from 2-0 down to win 3-2 in 1993. I came off the bench to set up Eric [Cantona] to make it 2-2, and then Keaney scored late on. That was a great game. Then there was the goal on my full debut against them and scoring the winner at Maine Road in 1996 – there have been so many! The debut ‘goal’ [in May 1991] is down in the history books as being mine, not Colin Hendry’s! I think I may have touched it with my bootlace, but that’s about it… In the past I’ve had goals taken away from me that I thought should have been mine, so I’ll claim it.
And your worst?
My worst memory is probably when we lost at Maine Road in 2002, when Shaun Goater scored twice. That was the first time I’d ever experienced defeat in a derby so it was hard to take.
Do teams lose something when they move to big new grounds like the City of Manchester Stadium?
I think they do simply because of the history of the grounds they’ve been at. Having said that, you have to move with the times and Eastlands is a fantastic stadium, with a massive, great pitch, so you have to try to better yourself. But they did lose that atmosphere that they’d had for 100 years.
Many fans will remember you wearing those tights at Eastlands in 2005…
I was thinking about that the other day, funnily enough – probably because it’s getting a bit colder! I was coming back from a hamstring injury, it was cold and I’d trained in them that week, so it was just precautionary, really. I don’t think I’d have started the game in them, though! I took my jogging bottoms off and the gaffer gave me a dirty look – he didn’t even know I was wearing them. I think I’ve got away with it since, although I got a lot of whistles from the crowd at the time!
What do you recall of your switch from City to United as a 14-year-old?
I was at City for two years but didn’t really enjoy it. I was always a United fan and had the opportunity to train with them for a week. After that the manager came to my house and asked if I would sign for United and there was no hesitation, purely because I was a United fan and had had such a great time the week before. Nowadays the academies are set up for kids from the age of seven or eight, but back then it was the little things that stuck in your mind. I was 12 or 13 and had been to Bury and Preston, and some southern teams were also interested in me. But I just got a good vibe when I came to United – Brian Kidd looked after me, the manager obviously made a big impression, and it was those little things that helped.
There was a feeling that City were getting all the best young talent in Manchester at that time. Is that true?
City had a great youth team around that time with a lot of good players – Paul Lake, David White, Ian Brightwell. Our manager had had a good youth system at Aberdeen and wondered why the biggest club in the world were not getting the best youngsters in their own area. So he rejigged the scouting system and brought in the likes of Kidd and Les Kershaw to get the best players, and you saw the fruits of that in the years after with Scholesy, Becks, myself and other players coming through. United should be getting the best players because of what they can offer – they are not scared to field players at an early age if they’re good enough.
United haven't had it all their own way against City recently. Why is this?
I don’t know what the reasons are. Anything can happen in derbies. They’ve had some quality players over the last few years, they had some luck last season, especially at their place – at Old Trafford they probably deserved to win. But you have to take your chances and hope you get the rub of the green.