He's Britain's most successful player, but we know nothing about his life. He's worth £24m, but lives within a mile of where he grew up. Is Ryan Giggs the last good man in Premier League football?
Giggs has had a remarkable career. Having won a record 11 Premier League titles with Manchester United and countless other trophies, he's Britain's most successful footballer.
At the ridiculously old age of 35, years after most wingers have hung up their boots, he was voted footballer of the year by his fellow players. Last December, at the even more ridiculous age of 36, he was named BBC sports personality of the year.
Giggs has a surprisingly complex identity. He grew up as Ryan Wilson, playing for Manchester City Boys and captaining England Schoolboys, and ended up as Ryan Giggs, making more appearances for United than any other player and captaining Wales.
Most people think of him as white, but he's mixed race – his father, the former Swinton rugby player Danny Wilson, is black.
His father has been a huge influence on him. "He was my first hero. I never really had footballers I worshipped – I loved Bryan Robson, Mark Hughes, people like that – but watching him perform for three or four years every Sunday home and away, he was so talented. Going to training with him, he was someone I looked up to."
But he also despised him – Wilson was an aggressive bully to Giggs's mother, and walked out on the family when Giggs was 15. In his autobiography, Giggs described the welter of emotions as he carried his father's bag to the station for him for the last time – loss, hurt, anger.
A year later he changed his name from Wilson to his mother's, Giggs. Was that a big decision? "Yeah, it was. I'd always been Wilson through school. United were in Italy for a youth tournament and I'd just had my passport done, and the referee came in and he read out all the passports, and he read my name out and I said, 'Yeah, that's me' and everyone just went, 'What?'"
Was he disowning his father by changing his name? He ums and ahs. "No, not really. Not really. It was more that 'I'm with my Mum' than a statement to my dad." Today, he is extremely close to his mother and rarely sees his father.
As a boy, he suffered racism, even though most people assumed he was white. "Where I grew up, people obviously knew my dad because it's a small place and he was the top player for Swinton – they'd go and watch him play, see him in the papers, so they knew he was black."
Is his blackness important to him? "Yeah, of course it is. It's your roots. It's who you are, it's what you are."
In the past, Giggs has said his parents' fraught relationship helped his football – toughened him up. Today, he says he's not sure that's quite right. "Maybe not toughened up. Maybe escapism from the tough times at home. It was a release."
Excerpt from The Guardian, to read this article in full, please click here