UPDATE 1-Soccer-Evergreen Giggs wins PFA award - at last
LONDON, April 26 (Reuters) - Manchester United's Ryan Giggs was voted Player of the Year for the first time by the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) on Sunday.
Despite making only 12 Premier League starts and scoring a single goal, the evergreen Welshman finally took the prize after 18 years as a professional with United and just short of 800 appearances for the club.
He edged out United team mates Cristiano Ronaldo, Nemanja Vidic, Edwin van der Sar and Rio Ferdinand as well as Liverpool's Steven Gerrard.
"It's right up there with personal accolades -- it's the best to have as it's voted by your fellow players," Giggs, the first Welshman since Mark Hughes in 1991 to win the award, was quoted as saying on the BBC.
"I've been fortunate to win a lot of trophies, I won the young player award twice, but this is the big one.
"It's an exciting season. I think it is going to go right to the wire, there's big game after big game now. That is what you want and need at a club like Manchester United."
The 35-year-old's only Premier League goal of the season came against West Ham United in February, a classy effort after swerving past several defenders.
Despite his age, manager Alex Ferguson has continued to call on the veteran during big games and has extended Giggs's contract by one season.
"The manager has been massive in my career from when I first met him when I was 13," Giggs said.
"I've been so fortunate to have such a great career in so many great teams, it's not even worth thinking about what it would have been like without the manager."
Giggs, who stopped Ronaldo winning the award for the third consecutive season, is on course for an 11th Premier League winners' medal with United three points clear at the top with a game in hand of their rivals.
He could also add a third Champions League winners' medal to his collection with United facing Arsenal in the semi-final.
Aston Villa's Ashley Young was voted PFA Young Player of the Year.
(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Ed Osmond; to query or comment on this story email firstname.lastname@example.org)
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