Calling it a day
Ryan Giggs has announced his retirement from playing with Man United, marking the end of the most phenomenal career of modern times. In tribute, we have looked back through the archive to pick out the memorable moments and get the views of Sir Alex and the man himself...
By Peter Fraser - Follow me on Twitter @PeteFraser_
Last Updated: 20/05/14 9:08am
Ryan Giggs' records are the stuff of legend; 13 Premier League titles, two European Cups from four final appearances, four FA Cups and four League Cups. At the same time, he enjoyed a staggering number of 963 games for his one and only professional club.
The Welshman is now hanging up his boots and taking up a role as assistant manager to new Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal, calling time on a staggering career which also saw him represent his country on 64 occasions.
Giggs announced his decision to retire on Monday afternoon in an emotional open letter to fans, who, for many years, cheered their hero and memorably chanted his name to the tune of Joy Division echoing around Old Trafford.
"My dream was always to play for Manchester United," wrote Giggs, "and although it saddens me to know I will not be pulling on a United jersey again as a player, I have been lucky enough to have fulfilled that dream playing with some of the best players in the world, working under an incredible manager in Sir Alex Ferguson, and most of all, playing for the greatest fans in world football. I have always felt and appreciated your support."
That Giggs is calling time on a playing career which stretched into his forties made him all the impressive on the field and, here, we remember some of his more unique moments.
MAY 4, 1991 - MANCHESTER UNITED 1 MANCHESTER CITY 0
Giggs' first ever United goal has more than an element of doubt about it. The Welshman is not sure he got a touch on the ball before City defender Colin Hendry. Look at the record books, however, and it says the then teenager settled this derby on his full United debut. The rest is history.
SEPTEMBER 19, 1992 - TOTTENHAM 1 MANCHESTER UNITED 1
The first sighting of Giggs' mazy dribbling skills. Gallops past Tottenham's Jason Cundy and Dean Austin, then tales the ball round goalkeeper Ian Walker before finding the net from the tightest of angles. Giggs said: "I thought I had pushed the ball too far so I had to keep the shot hard and low."
NOVEMBER 17, 1993 - WALES 1 ROMANIA 2
The nearest Giggs came to reaching a major tournament with his beloved Wales. Needing a win to qualify, Paul Bodin wastes a penalty to put them in front and Giggs ultimately misses out. Goals from Gheorghe Hagi and Florin Raducioiu either side of a Dean Saunders effort beat Wales.
FEBRUARY 5, 1994 - QPR 2 MANCHESTER UNITED 3
Another from the scrapbook of great goals. After whipping the ball away from Ray Wilkins, Giggs embarks on a forward charge the Rangers defence was unable to resist before firing left-footed past Jan Stejskal. Andrei Kanchelskis and Eric Cantona were the scorers of United's earlier goals.
APRIL 14, 1999 - ARSENAL 1 MANCHESTER UNITED 2
The goal that defined Giggs' career. Down to 10 men following Roy Keane's dismissal and kept in the match only by a late Peter Schmeichel penalty save, United earn their place in the FA Cup final after Giggs seizes on a loose ball inside his own half and roars forward. Lee Dixon is the last man beaten before his shot flies past David Seaman.
FEBRUARY 25, 2003 - JUVENTUS 0 MANCHESTER UNITED 3
After bearing the brunt of intense criticism earlier in the season, Giggs provides a reminder of his class on one of United's great European nights. In this game in Italy in the second group stage of the Champions League, the pick of his brace was a right-footed effort beyond Gianluigi Buffon.
SEPTEMBER 20, 2009 - MANCHESTER UNITED 4 MANCHESTER CITY 3
By now less reliant on pace and more on ice-cold instinct. In the sixth minute of injury time in a frenetic derby, Giggs could have done anything when presented with the ball on the edge of the box. He made the right choice - providing Michael Owen with a perfectly weighted pass for the winner.
APRIL 26, 2011 - SCHALKE 0 MANCHESTER UNITED 2
United were finding it difficult to turn their superiority into goals in this Champions League semi-final first leg. But Giggs managed it midway through the second half to set up an easy win. United eventually went on to the final but would lose to the mighty Barcelona at Wembley.
AUGUST 4, 2012 - GREAT BRITAIN 1 SOUTH KOREA 1 (4-5 on penalties)
The night when Giggs tastes a rare moment of penalty shootout agony. Aaron Ramsey misses a penalty that would have put Team GB ahead and Daniel Sturridge fails with one in a shootout as captain Giggs bows out at the quarter-final stage of the Olympics in what was his only international tournament. Giggs had scored against United Arab Emirates earlier in the competition.
FEBRUARY 23, 2013 - QPR 0 MANCHESTER UNITED 2
Destined to be overshadowed by Rafael's blockbuster, Giggs set the seal on another victory when he calmly beat Julio Cesar on United's unstoppable march to a 20th title. It was Giggs' 13th Premier League trophy as United ultimately finished a massive 11 points clear at the top.
MARCH 5, 2013 - MANCHESTER UNITED 1 REAL MADRID 2
Makes his 1,000th senior competitive appearance for United, Wales and Team GB combined on what turns out to be a bittersweet evening at Old Trafford as United controversially crash out of Champions League against Real Madrid. The second leg was marred by a harsh red card for Nani, with a Cristiano Ronaldo strike going on to send Jose Mourinho's side into the quarter-finals.
What They Say...
Giggs on the cruelties of time...
"When I was in the first team, you are looking at Brucey (Steve Bruce) and Robbo (Bryan Robson), who were 33, 34, and you were thinking, 'that is ancient', so I do not know what the young players are thinking of me. They are all saying, 'it's your birthday this week' and I am going, 'yeah, yeah, it is a big one; I am 35'. They are looking at me, and then obviously they get the truth out that I am 40 and they are sort of shaking their head and I am thinking, 'yeah, it is old'."
Former United manager Sir Alex Ferguson lavished praise on Giggs in 2012/13...
"Ryan is an exceptional human being. He has never carried any weight, has never suffered a serious injury and never misses a training session. He is still at the head of the pack during pre-season. He just has this insatiable appetite to continue playing."
Ex-team-mate Gary Pallister on the time he first saw Giggs in action as a teenager in United's youth ranks...
"The gaffer (Ferguson) said Ryan was going to be a star. I thought, 'that's a big statement, he's only a 15-year-old kid'. But there he was, this spindly-looking lad running amok up and down the left-hand side playing against opponents who were 16 or 17. He was absolutely terrific. I still love watching him play."
Dennis Schofield, a Manchester City scout who first spotted an eight-year-old Giggs only to see him join derby rivals United...
"It makes me so proud whenever I see Ryan playing. I first saw him when I was working as a milkman and also doing work as a scout for Manchester City. I was driving in my milkfloat and all these kids were coming out of the local school in their kit. I parked up and watched them. This lad, an outside left, stood out. I thought 'flipping heck, he's good'. He was like a gazelle."
What is your favourite Ryan Giggs memory? Have your say below