A rare wave of sentimentality has swept Ryan Giggs to the PFA Players' Player of the Year award for the 2008-2009 season, with the Manchester United star claiming the first senior individual accolade of a career that has spanned 18 years.
Giggs, 35, has made only 12 league starts in 34 games for the league leaders this season but his peers have voted him as the country’s finest player ahead of Steven Gerrard and four of his Manchester United team-mates, seemingly as a nod to his vast achievements in the game rather than solely his contribution in the past eight months.
"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."
The Wales international is on the brink of making his 800th appearance for The Red Devils and has collected ten Premier League winners’ medals, won the FA Cup four times and the Champions League twice, as well as collecting a host of other trophies in a glittering career.
Individual recognition had always eluded him though and after winning the PFA Young Player of the Year award in both 1992 and 1993, Giggs missed out on the senior award on a number of occasions, most notably perhaps in 1999 when he helped United secure a historic treble.
His contemporaries have ensured that Giggs’ undoubtedly huge contribution to the English game has now been marked with an official award though, making him the sixth recipient of the prize from Old Trafford in the Premier League era.
Eric Cantona (1994), Roy Keane (2000), Teddy Sheringham (2001), Ruud van Nistelrooy (2002) and Cristiano Ronaldo (2007, 2008) have all collected the award under Sir Alex Ferguson while Mark Hughes (1989, 1991) and Gary Pallister (1992) did so before the inception of the revamped top flight.
Edwin van der Sar, Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand and Ronaldo were also shortlisted for this year's award.