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- Date of Birth:
- Nov 29, 1973
Ryan Giggs made his first team debut for Manchester United an incredible 18 years ago at the age of 17 in March 1991 - two seasons before the Premier League even began - with a substitute appearance against Everton at Old Trafford, and has remained at United for the entirety of his club career. He went on to make his full 90 minutes first team debut in the Manchester derby in May 1991 where, still aged only 17, he scored his first goal for the club and only goal of the game.
Giggs continued to impress in the 1991-92 season, establishing himself as a first-team regular at only 18 years old and making 38 appearances that season. Sir Alex Ferguson, United fans and many within the media alike quickly became very impressed with the young left winger's fast pace, dribbling ability and tendency to run at defenders and beat his man. Comparisons with legendary United winger George Best were born, with many already stating Giggs to have the potential to be the finest talent at United since Best in the 1960s. High praise indeed, and Giggs was awarded the Young Player of the Year honour at the end of the season.
Giggs was also finding himself breaking into the Welsh national team, and made his debut for Wales against Germany in November 1991, aged still only 17 and thus holding the then-record for being the youngest player to play for Wales. Unfortunately, Wales didn't qualify for the 1994 World Cup and indeed Giggs has never played in an international tournament.
Despite already making his name in the United first team, Giggs was also a part of the now famous 1992 FA Youth Cup winning United team that included many of his future team-mates, such as Paul Scholes, David Beckham, Nicky Butt and the Neville brothers. He is thus also considered to be the first member of ‘Fergie's Fledgling's', the group of young players brought through the United youth teams into the first team at the same time in the early 1990s under manager Ferguson.
With the establishment of the Premier League in August 1992, Giggs was already considered one of English football's best talents, and went on to become an integral part of the United team that won the league for the first time in 26 years in the 1992-93 season, winning his first league title at the age of 19 and being awarded the Young Player of the Year accolade for the second year running. He then went on to win the Double with United in the 1993-94 season, winning the FA Cup and his second league title.
With the introduction of his fellow youth team-mates into the first team in the 1994-95 and 1995-96 seasons, Giggs went on to win another Double, and thus his third league title and second FA Cup, in 1996, and won the league once again, for a fourth time, at the end of the 1996-97 season.
One of the most memorable seasons of Giggs' career remains the 1998-99 season where he was instrumental in aiding the club in winning the Treble of Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League, still an unprecedented achievement in English football. Perhaps the most remarkable moment of his career to date came in the epic FA Cup semi-final replay of that season against Arsenal where he scored what many consider to be the greatest goal in the Cup's 120 year history. Picking up the ball well within his own half, he then proceeded to dribble more than halfway up the pitch and past the entire Arsenal defence single-handedly before slamming the ball into the roof of the net. The goal was later voted by Manchester United fans to be the greatest goal ever scored at United.
Giggs remained an influential part of Ferguson's teams into the 2000s, winning the league title again at the end of the 1999-00 and 2000-01 seasons, taking his total up to seven league titles won.
Giggs suffered some patchy form in the 2001-02 season, and came in for criticism from some areas of the United fanbase as Arsenal took the title that season. This seeming poor run of form continued into the 2002-03 season, with some questioning his place in the United team and his supposed lack of pace. Giggs proved his doubters wrong though, and returned to form in time for United to win the league again in 2003, Giggs' eighth title win.
United won the FA Cup again in 2004, Giggs' fourth Cup win, and went on to win the league again in the 2006-07 season, Giggs winning it for a record-breaking ninth time and being included in the FA Team of the Season at the age of 33. United went on to win the league again in the 2007-08 season, Giggs' tenth title win, and he made a substitute appearance in the Champions League Final in 2008. In doing so, he made his 759th appearance and broke the previous United appearance record of 758 that had been held for over 30 years by Sir Bobby Charlton.
As well as his success with United, Giggs was also appointed as Captain of Wales in 2004, and continued to be one of the most influential players for his country. He did receive criticism however for his failure to participate in many friendly international matches. Since his debut in 1991 he did not play a friendly match until 2000. The official reason given for his absence was injuries and indeed Giggs has a long history of trouble with his hamstrings, but many areas of the media suspected that actually it was more to do with Ferguson's reluctance to release players for friendly games during the season.
Giggs retired from international football on 30th May 2007, drawing a 16-year international career to a close and citing a desire to concentrate on his club career as the main reason. He had earned 64 caps and scored 12 goals.
Giggs' most recent season has been widely considered to be one of his best. Despite being 35 years old now and approaching the end of his playing career, Giggs has been in excellent form in his new role of playing in central midfield rather than out wide on the left, the position he occupied for so many years. His age means he is lacking in the pace he once had and that is needed for a wide position, but his reading of the game, his passing range and his dribbling ability mean he is still an expert central midfielder. His excellent performances this year won him the 2009 PFA Player of the Season as voted by his fellow players and Giggs won the league with United again in the 2008-09 season, for an astonishing 11th time.
Ryan Giggs is widely regarded one of Manchester United's most legendary players and one of the finest players to have played in the Premier League. He is the most decorated footballer in English football history with a trophy cabinet that boasts eleven league titles, four FA Cups, two Champions League and three League cups. He is also the only player to have played and scored in every season of the Premier League since its inception and the first player in Champions League history to have scored in 12 successive seasons, encompassing a highly successful and long-lasting career both domestically and in Europe.
- Played (start/sub):
- 623 (489/134)
- Goals (hattricks):
- 88 (0)