Ryan Giggs hails Manchester United's academy record
Ryan Giggs believes Manchester United's willingness to give kids a chance has helped the club's academy become the biggest producer of Premier League talent.
A study conducted by Press Association Sport found that United's academy graduates last season racked up more top-flight minutes than players coming from any other system across the world.
There were 35 players who emerged from United's youth ranks and featured in the Premier League last season, with significant playing time for Red Devils stars Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard as well as West Brom captain Darren Fletcher, Burnley pair Tom Heaton and Michael Keane and Leicester's Danny Drinkwater and Danny Simpson.
Giggs, 43, was another who graduated from the same set-up around the time David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt and Gary and Phil Neville also came through under Sir Alex Ferguson's watch.
And the Premier League's all-time record appearance holder believes United's long-standing willingness to put faith in their own is what sets them apart.
'I think you have to go back to when Sir Alex first joined the club and overhauled the whole youth system,' the Welshman said.
'He made sure there was a pathway for young, local players to get into the first team. From then on the youth system and that pathway to the first team has just got stronger and stronger, so when parents are picking a team for their son to go to and they want them to get to the first team, they pick United because you've seen over the years Man United give young players a chance.
'Then there is the coaching, the way they are looked after, the way first-team players look after the young players coming into the team. There's a number of reasons, but I think you have to go back 30 years ago to when it all started.'
In all United's academy graduates accumulated 44,055 minutes in the Premier League last term, more than double the amount any other club accounted for, with Tottenham the next biggest contributors with 21,668 minutes.
Giggs, promoting the People's Award for the 2017 McDonald's Community Awards, was a one-club man who enjoyed a decorated career at Old Trafford but many of those professionals who departed, such as Fletcher, Keane and Drinkwater, have still enjoyed fruitful spells elsewhere following their United education.
'When a coach is looking to sign a young player - and I know this from experience of ex-team-mates who have gone on to manage - they know what the players have been through (at United), the training, the grounding, what they have learned on and off the pitch,' Giggs explained.
'It's a no-brainer if they've got ability, which most of them have, to pick a United player. You know their pedigree, you know what you are going to get, you know how they've been coached, that they know how to play football the right way.
'And of course there's that bit of, 'All right, I'll show United they shouldn't have let me go', which is what you want. (It's) not sulking, but saying, 'I'll show them what they are missing'.
'It's great to see. As a club you take pride in that; okay they've not made it at United, but they've still gone away and made successful careers for themselves.
Ryan Giggs is encouraging the public to nominate their grassroots football champion in the People's Award for the 2017 McDonald's Community Awards. To cast your vote please visit www.mcdonalds.co.uk/awards #15yearsofgrassroots