By Andy Hyslop
- Record appearance maker for Manchester United
- Winner of 34 honours with United
- Seen by many as future Manchester United manager
Ryan Giggs is the record appearance maker for Manchester United and at the time of writing assistant manager to Louis Van Gaal. Whether he goes on to manage the club or not, Giggs will forever be remembered as a Manchester United legend.
Giggs was born on 29 November in Cardiff and moved to Manchester at the age of six when his rugby playing father Danny Wilson signed for Swinton Rugby League club. Moving Giggs and the rest of his family to Swinton, a town in Salford.
Growing Giggs played both football and rugby, Giggs changed his surname from Wilson to Giggs at the age of 16 after his mother remarried. On his 17th birthday Giggs was offered his first professional contract by United, signing the deal two days later on December 1 1990.
Giggs first appearance at Old Trafford for the first-team came on March 2 1991 as a substitute against Everton. Giggs replaced injured full-back Denis Irwin in a 2-0 defeat. His first start came two months later as he was named in the starting line-up for the Manchester Derby on May 4 1991.
United won the game 1-0 and Giggs was credited with his first goal in the senior side. The goal appeared to be an own goal by City centre-back Colin Hendry but was credited to Giggs.
Despite not being named in the squad for the European Cup Winners Cup final win over Barcelona at the end of the 1990/91 season. The winger became a regular in the 1991/92 season and captained the youth team to FA Youth Cup success. The youth side that will forever be remembered as The Class Of 92.
As well as the Youth Cup success, Giggs picked up his first piece of silverware with the first team. Setting up Brian McClair for the winning goal in a 1-0 win over Nottingham Forest in the League Cup final of 1992. He also picked up person accolades as Giggs was named the PFA Young Player of the Year at the end of 1991/92 season.
By the start of the 1992/93 season, the first season of the newly formed Premier League; Giggs had ousted Lee Sharpe as United’s first choice on the left wing. Giggs made 41 appearances and scored nine goals in the league as United ended their 26 year wait for a league title. Winning the inaugural Premier League title.
The end of the 1992/93 season saw Giggs being named as the PFA Player of the Year for a second season running. The first player to do so.
Giggs was now a key figure in the United side as they completed a league and FA Cup double in the 1993/94. Narrowly missing out on completed a domestic treble, losing the League Cup final 3-1 to Aston Villa.
As United and Giggs looked to make it three Premier League titles in row in the 1994/95, Giggs was restricted to just 29 appearances through injury and only managed to find the back of the net on one occasion. Giggs and his United team-mates ended the season empty handed as Blackburn beat them to the league title and were defeated 1-0 by Everton in the FA Cup final.
As United look to bounce back in the 1995/96 season, Giggs was joined by a number of his youth team team-mates in the first-team. Giggs and United returned to form as they completed a unique second double of Premier League and FA Cup. Giggs contributed twelve goals in all competitions, making 44 appearances. After winning three titles in four seasons, success in Europe was now on the agenda for United and Giggs.
Giggs made seven appearances and scored two goals in the Champions League as United reached the semi-finals before losing out to German side Borussia Dortmund. The semi-final appearance was the first for United in the competition for 28 years. Despite disappointment in Europe, Giggs picked up another Premier League winners medal at the end of the 1996/97.
The 1997/98 season was a disappointing one for Giggs and his United team-mates, United were pipped to the title by Arsenal as the team suffered a number injuries to crucial players. The following season Giggs himself missed a lot of games through injury but put in some crucial performances as United completed the treble of Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League.
The most memorable moment for Giggs in the 1998/99 season is probably the winning goal at Villa Park against Arsenal in the FA Cup semi-final replay. Giggs picked up a loose pass from Patrick Viera before taking on the entire Arsenal defence before firing the ball into the roof of the net past David Seaman.
Giggs also setup Teddy Sheringham for the equaliser in the Champions League final as United scored two late goals to complete the treble. Giggs continued to be a prominent figure in United’s team as they completed a hat-trick of Premier League titles.
The departure of Denis Irwin in May 2002, meant that Giggs was the longest serving playing in the United squad. The 2001/02 season was a poor one for United as they lost the league to Arsenal and were knocked out of the Champions League at semi-final stage by Germans Bayer Leverkusen when Giggs and his team-mates were expected to reach the final at Hamden Park.
The 2002/03 season saw question marks raised over Giggs performances especially after he missed an open goal against Arsenal as United exited the FA Cup. A week later though Giggs put in one of his best performances as he score two goals in United’s 3-0 win away to Juventus, including a solo effort that will be remembered as one of his greatest goals.
A fourth FA Cup success came in 2004, in all Giggs played in seven FA Cup finals, winning four and losing on three occasions. In September 2004, Giggs made his 600th appearance for the club. The 2005/06 season saw Giggs picking up his second League Cup winners medal as United beat Wigan 4-0 in the final. The success coming fourteen years after United and Giggs last League Cup win.
The League Cup took place in Giggs place of birth Cardiff and was United’s first success since the FA Cup in 2004 and was a the first success for a new United team that included young players like Rooney and Ronaldo but Giggs was still an integral part of.
After three seasons without the Premier League trophy, Giggs and his team-mates won the league for the ninth time since the inception of the Premier League. Meaning nine winners medals for Giggs and setting a new record for title winners medals in English football. There was disappointment in the FA Cup final though as Giggs had a goal disallowed as United lost out to Chelsea.
The 2007/08 was one of a number of landmarks for Giggs. The first coming in December 2007 with his 100th league goal in a 4-1 win over Derby County. February 2008 saw Giggs making his 100th Champions League appearance in a game against Lyon.
The final day of the 2007/08 league season saw United travelling to Wigan looking to seal back-back to titles and Giggs came off the bench to equal Sir Bobby Charlton’s record of 758 appearances for United. Giggs scored the second goal as United and Giggs sealed another title win. Ten days later Giggs broke the appearance record in the Champions League final against Chelsea. A shootout win over Chelsea gave Giggs his second Champions League winner medal.
Approaching his 35th birthday at the start of 2008/09 season. Giggs was now being used more as a central midfielder and more as a squad player rather than a regular starter. His experience was invaluable to Ferguson though and the manager was keen for Giggs to join the coaching staff once his playing days were over.
Despite only making twelve appearances by the time of the PFA Awards. Giggs was voted as the Player of the year by his fellow professionals for the 2008/09 season. United reached the Champions League final for a second successive year as they looked to defend the trophy. In doing so Giggs made in 800th appearance in the first-leg semi-final win over Arsenal. United lost final 2-0 to Barcelona.
The start of the following season witnessed Giggs 700th start for Manchester United and he also scored his 150th goal for the club in a Champions League game against Wolfsburg. On the eve of his 36th Giggs scored his 100th Premier League, of course all for Manchester United.
Giggs scored in an opening day defeat of Newcastle at the start of the 2010/11 season to keep up his record of scoring in every Premier League season. January 2011 saw Giggs making his 600th league appearance for United and two months later his surpass Sir Bobby Charlton’s record of 607 league appearances for the club.
There was a twelve Premier League title for Giggs at the end of the 2010/11 season but United once again finished second best to Barcelona in the Champions League final, played at Wembley Stadium.
February 2012 saw Giggs making his 900th appearance for the club in a 2-1 win against Norwich; scoring the winning goal in the 90th minute. A goal against Everton in February 2013 extending his run of scoring in every Premier League season so far.
A thirteenth and final Premier League title for Giggs came at the end of the 2012/13 season. The end of that season saw the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson and David Moyes named as his successor. The arrival of Moyes saw Giggs appointed to the coaching staff as player/coach.
A disappointing season under Moyes in which Giggs struggled for appearances, eventually saw Moyes sacked once United couldn’t qualify for the Champions League. Giggs was asked by the board to take charge of United’s final four games.
Management started well for Giggs with a 4-0 win over Norwich, but suffered defeat to Sunderland before beating Hull and drawing with Southampton on the final day of the 2013/14 season.
Giggs announced his retirement from playing on May 19 2014 after making a record 963 appearances and scoring 168 goals for Manchester United. Almost immediately Giggs was announced as assistant manager to new manager Louis Van Gaal.
Despite playing for England schoolboys, Giggs was never eligible to represent England at International level and made 64 appearances for Wales, scoring 12 goals. Giggs captain Great Britain at the 2012 Olympics in London. Becoming the oldest scoring in the competition with a headed goal against United Arab Emirates.