Ryan Giggs

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Ryan Giggs
Personal information
Full name Ryan Joseph Giggs OBE
Date of birth 29 November 1973 (1973-11-29)
Place of birth    Cardiff, Wales
Height 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
Playing position Left/right winger, second striker
Club information
Current club Manchester United
Number 11
Youth clubs
Manchester City
Manchester United
Senior clubs1
Years Club App (Gls)*
1990– Manchester United 528 (100)   
National team
1991
1991–2007
Wales U21
Wales
001 00(0)
064 0(13)

1 Senior club appearances and goals
counted for the domestic league only and
correct as of 13:09, 23 March 2008 (UTC).
* Appearances (Goals)

Ryan Joseph Giggs OBE (born Ryan Joseph Wilson on 29 November 1973 in Ely, Cardiff) is a Welsh footballer currently playing for Manchester United in the English Premiership, and formerly for the Welsh national team prior to his retirement from international football on 2 June 2007. Alessandro Del Piero said this about Ryan Giggs: "This is embarrassing to say but I have cried twice in my life watching a football player; the first one was Roberto ( Baggio) and the second was Ryan Giggs". Giggs received an OBE in the Queen's 2007 Birthday Honours List, alongside his former team mate Teddy Sheringham, who received an MBE.

Giggs is the son of Danny Wilson, a noted Rugby League player, and his mother is Lynne Giggs. Although born in Cardiff, he was raised in Pendlebury, England and speaks with a Mancunian accent. His father is of mixed race (of Sierra Leonean and Dutch ancestry) and Giggs has always expressed pride at his mixed heritage.

Giggs is Manchester United's longest-serving current player. He made his first appearance for the club during the 1990-91 season and been a regular player since the 1991-92 season. He has played the second highest number of competitive games for the club (second only to Bobby Charlton), and holds the club record of team trophies won by a player (23). Since 1992, he has collected nine Premier League winners' medals, four FA Cup winner's medals, two League Cup winner's medals and one Champions League winner's medal. He also has runners-up medals from two FA Cup finals and two League Cup finals, as well as being part of four United teams who have finished second in the league.

Giggs captained England Schoolboys (which all schoolboys in England are eligible to play for, regardless of nationality), but played for the Welsh national team as an adult. At the time of his début in 1991, Giggs (still only 17 at the time) was the youngest player to represent his country at the highest level. He was appointed captain of Wales in 2004.

He also won the PFA Young Player of the Year award twice (1992 and 1993), making him the first player to win the award in consecutive years - a feat matched only by Robbie Fowler and current team-mate Wayne Rooney. Giggs holds many other records, including that of the top all-time scorer in the FA Premier League not to play regularly in the position of striker, and holds the record for scoring Manchester United's fastest goal (15 seconds), set in November 1995 against Southampton. Fans have also voted that Giggs scored Manchester United's greatest goal, in the semi-final of the 1999 FA Cup against Arsenal where he beat four defenders ( Lee Dixon twice) to score.

Giggs has worn the squad number 11 since squad numbering came into effect in 1993.

Giggs is currently vice-captain to Gary Neville at Manchester United.

Giggs is the most decorated player in English Football overtaking Liverpool legend Phil Neal with the most honours won.

Beginnings

Giggs began his football career as a junior member of Deans Sports F.C. in Swinton and was spotted as a 14-year-old by Manchester City. His dribbling skills were compared to legendary players such as George Best, Diego Maradona, and Johan Cruyff. His talent became widely recognised, and Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson went to his house personally to urge him to sign for Manchester United instead of Manchester City, and he joined them on 29 November 1987 - his 14th birthday. He persuaded Giggs by waiving YTS forms with the opportunity to turn professional in three years. Giggs ended up signing with Manchester United.

Similarly, England Under-21 coach Lawrie McMenemy checked to see whether he was eligible to play for the nation.

Superstardom

In 1994, the BBC described Giggs as "one of the most photographed persons" in Great Britain. Giggs, or "Giggsy", as he was known, was also hailed as one of the FA Premier League's biggest stars and could often be found as the picture-book merchandising icon of the league's early years. He (along with Jamie Redknapp and Lee Sharpe) was part of the league's attempt to market itself globally, re-forging its image after the hooliganism-affected years of the 1980s.

Giggs turned professional on 29 November 1990 (his 17th birthday) and made his League debut against Everton F.C. at Old Trafford on 2 March 1991, as a substitute for Denis Irwin. In his first full start, Giggs was credited with his first ever goal in a 1-0 win in the Manchester derby, though it appeared to be a Colin Hendry own goal.

He became a first-team regular early in the 1991-92 season, and collected his first piece of silverware on 12 April 1992 as United defeated Nottingham Forest in the League Cup Final, after Giggs had set up Brian McClair to score the only goal of the game. He was voted PFA Young Player of the Year, and United finished second in the league.

By the start of the 1992-93 season - the first season of the newly-formed FA Premier League, Giggs was firmly established as United's first choice left winger, and became known as one of British football's most prodigious young players. His emergence and the arrival of Eric Cantona heralded the dominance of United in the new Premier League. His manager was very protective of him, refusing to allow Giggs to be interviewed until he turned 20, eventually granting the first interview to the BBC's Desmond Lynam for Match of the Day.

His ability to consistently dribble past opposing players by using his own exceptional balance, pace, and skill became the most noticeable aspect of his game. He was also renowned for pre-meditating celebrations with team-mates, such as Paul Ince and Andrei Kanchelskis. He was afforded many opportunities which were not normally offered to footballers at his young age, such as hosting his own television show, Ryan Giggs' Soccer Skills, which was a hit with ITV and Granada in 1994. A book based on the series was also released.

Ryan Giggs chants often heard from the fans during the Manchester United games include:

"Ryan Giggs, Ryan Giggs, Running down the wing, Ryan Giggs, Ryan Giggs, Running down the wing, Feared by the Blues, Loved by the Reds, Ryan Giggs, Ryan Giggs, Ryan Giggs"

and:

"Giggs, Giggs will tear you apart, again"

the former adapted from the Robin Hood theme; the latter from the Mancunian band Joy Division's song, ' Love Will Tear Us Apart'.

His goals were regularly shortlisted for various Goal of the Season awards, and tended to be memorable, particularly the ones against QPR in 1993, Tottenham in 1994, Everton in 1995, Coventry in 1996, and the most remarkable of all, his amazing solo-goal against Arsenal in the replay of the 1999 FA Cup semi-final. During extra time, Giggs picked up possession just after Patrick Vieira had given the ball away, then ran away from the half-way line, dribbling past the whole Arsenal back line, including Tony Adams and Martin Keown before launching his left-footed strike just under David Seaman's bar and beyond him. It has been hailed as the best FA Cup goal of all time by some sections of the media and football fans. It does have the distinction of being the last ever goal scored in an FA Cup Semi-Final Replay as, from the following season, the FA Cup Semi-Finals have been decided in a single game, with extra time and a Penalty Shoot Out if required.

By the late 1990s, with the retirement of Cantona and the emergence of more younger players like David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Gary Neville, Philip Neville and Nicky Butt, his popularity and fame gradually evened out and attention was paid to some of the younger stars, with Beckham receiving particularly high levels of media attention on and off the field. However, his football skill was still marked genius, and he developed into a more mature senior player by the time United won their record breaking and unprecedented " Treble" in 1999. Giggs missed several games due to injury, but his form was consistently excellent and he played in both cup finals that the club reached that season. Memorable moments were his extra-time goal in the FA Cup semi-final against arch-rivals Arsenal (see above) to give United a 2-1 win, and his 90th minute equalizer in the home leg of the Champions League semi-final against Juventus.

Giggs set up the equalising goal scored by Teddy Sheringham in the UEFA Champions League final that set United on their way to the treble. Giggs was also the man of the match as United beat Palmeiras to claim the Intercontinental Cup that year. In November 2003, Giggs was mentioned in an episode of The Simpsons, entitled " The Regina Monologues", which takes place in England. In response to Marge complaining that Homer punched out three people on the street, Homer replies, "That was over soccer results. Can you believe they gave Giggs a yellow card in the box?!". Giggs therefore has the distinction of being the only Premiership footballer to be mentioned in the show.

The later years

Giggs was one of United's most experienced and senior players at United when Denis Irwin left in May 2002, and he became a pivotal part of the club, despite still being only 28 years old. According to a BBC Sport article in 2003, "the trajectory of Giggs' United career follows that of the club almost exactly", underlining his importance to United.

Giggs continued to excel in the four years that followed the treble triumph of 1999. United were Premier League champions in three of the four seasons following the treble, as well as reaching the Champions League quarter-finals three times and the semi-finals once. He celebrated his 10-year anniversary at Old Trafford with a testimonial match against Celtic at the start of the 2001-02 campaign. A year later, he bagged his 100th career goal in a draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

He played in his fourth FA Cup triumph on 22 May 2004, making him one of only two players (the other being Roy Keane) to have won the trophy four times, while playing for Manchester United. He has also finished with a runners-up medal three times (1995, 2005 and 2007).

His participation in the victory over Liverpool in September 2004 made him the third player to play 600 games for United, alongside Sir Bobby Charlton and Bill Foulkes. He was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in 2005 in recognition of his contribution to the English game. During the first half of the 2004-05 season, Giggs was linked in a transfer speculation with Newcastle United, a club his best friend at United, Nicky Butt, had left for. However, no move was made before the transfer window closed on 31 January 2005.

After that season, Giggs signed a two-year contract extension with Manchester United when chairman David Gill relented on his normal policy of not signing players over 30 to contracts longer than one year. This will keep him at Old Trafford until at least June 2008.

Giggs has reinvented himself and continues to contribute positively to the Manchester United cause even after team-mates like David Beckham and Roy Keane had left. Giggs has also benefited from being largely injury-free aside from a series of hamstring problems which, according to his autobiography, prevents him from running at full throttle to this day.

Ryan Giggs made his 700th appearance for Manchester United on 3 March 2007 in a Premier League match against Liverpool, which Manchester United won 1-0.

On 6 May 2007, with Chelsea only able to manage a 1-1 with London rivals Arsenal, Manchester United became the champions of England. In doing so Ryan Giggs set a record of nine league titles thus beating the previous record of eight he shared with Alan Hansen and Phil Neal (who won all of their titles with Liverpool).

Giggs played a starring role in Manchester United's 2007 Charity Shield victory after netting in the first half to bring the game to a 1-1 draw, which led to penalty triumph for the Red Devils after keeper Van Der Sar saved all of Chelsea's first 3 penalties.

In the 2007-08 season, Alex Ferguson adopted a rotation system between Giggs and newcomers Nani and Anderson; however he was the favoured choice for the anticipated clash with Chelsea at Old Trafford and put in a glorious cross with the outside of his boot for Carlos Tevez to score his first Manchester United goal.

The following week Giggs signed a contract extension that will keep him at Old Trafford until the end of the 2008-09 season, when he will be in his 36th year.

Sir Alex Ferguson has stated he believes Giggs can carry on playing for United beyond this date. In his subsequent match, after the international break, Giggs dribbled past two defenders and netted a deflected shot (his first league goal of the season) in the second half of a 4-1 Manchester United romp away to Aston Villa. The goal means that along with Gary Speed (currently at Sheffield United), Giggs has scored in every single Premiership season since its inception in 1992. Giggs scored his 100th league goal for Manchester United against Derby County on 8 December 2007, which Manchester United won 4-1.

International career

Giggs won 64 caps and scored 12 goals for the Welsh national team between 1991 and 2007. However his international career was frustrating as, like Alfredo Di Stéfano and George Best, he did not play in either a European Championship or a FIFA World Cup">World Cup finals, because Wales failed to qualify. He was appointed captain of Wales in 2004.

Giggs received criticism for his reluctance to participate in friendly international matches. Since his début in 1991 against West Germany, Giggs failed to attend a friendly international until some nine years later, missing a massive 18 consecutive friendly games. The official reason given for such absences was that Giggs was injured on each occasion, however Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson in fact had a policy of refusing to release the player for friendly games

In September 2006, Giggs put in a dazzling performance in a friendly against Brazil at White Hart Lane. Such was his display that, following the 2-0 win for Brazil, Brazil coach Dunga paid Giggs the ultimate compliment by stating he would not look out of place playing for the five-time world champions alongside stars such as Kaká and Ronaldinho.

Giggs announced his retirement from international football on Wednesday 30 May 2007 at a press conference held at The Vale of Glamorgan Hotel, drawing the curtain on a 16-year international career. His final game for Wales, and as captain, was the Euro 2008 Qualifier against the Czech Republic on 2 June at Cardiff. He earned his 64th cap in this game and won the Man of the Match award as Wales drew 0-0.

Discipline

Giggs had a very good disciplinary record during his early career receiving relatively few bookings. His only red card came in 2001 in an international match against Norway which Wales lost. In November 2003 he was found guilty of improper conduct by the FA due to his behaviour following a game against Arsenal, his punishment was a £7,500 fine and a warning about his future behaviour. In the same week Giggs received a two match suspension from international football for deliberately elbowing Russian player Vadim Evseev in the face, the offence was missed by the referee but he was later convicted using video evidence

Personal life

Other than his notorious spate of womanising as alleged in tabloids such as the Daily Mirror over the years, Giggs has otherwise managed to avoid the limelight of celebrity trappings that tagged his earlier years. In his autobiography, Giggs: The Autobiography, he revealed possible reasons for his aversion to attention, and accounted for his quiet and bashful demeanour.

The biography told of the racial taunts that Giggs endured as a child because he was the product of a mixed marriage. Although he admired his Rugby league-playing father's sporting gifts (Giggs attributes his speed and balance to his father's genes), he hated the impact his "bullying aggressive nature" had on his family.

In an infamous interview with the Daily Telegraph, Giggs described his father as a "real rogue". After his parents separated during the 1980s, he dropped the surname Wilson and used his mother's name Giggs.

Giggs was involved in controversy when his then-girlfriend Davinia Taylor alleged he assaulted her in a nightclub, claiming he punched her in the stomach and face.

Giggs is considered by many as a player who, unlike Lee Sharpe and George Best, achieved considerable fame despite a relatively low profile overall as a celebrity. He has hosted adverts for Reebok, Sovil Titus, Citizen Watches, Givenchy, Fuji, Patek Phillipe, Quorn Burgers and Celcom, and has been used for video-mapping in computer game simulations like EA Sports' FIFA 2003, for which he also did a commercial.

According to an article by BBC Sport: "In the early 1990s, Giggs was David Beckham before Beckham was even holding down a place in the United first team. If you put his face on the cover of a football magazine, it guaranteed you the biggest sales of the year. Why? Men would buy it to read about 'the new Best' and girls bought it because they wanted his face all over their bedroom walls. Giggs had the million-pound boot deal ( Reebok), the lucrative sponsorship deals in the Far East ( Fuji) and the celebrity girlfriends ( Dani Behr, Davinia Taylor) at a time when Beckham was being sent on loan to Preston North End."

Giggs married his long-term partner Stacey Cooke in a private ceremony on 7 September 2007. They have two children; a daughter Liberty, who was born in April 2003, and a son Zach who was born in October 2006.

Giggs has a younger brother, Rhodri, also a winger, who currently plays for Curzon Ashton in the Manchester Football League. He was released by F.C. United of Manchester, the non-league club set up by disaffected Manchester United fans after Malcolm Glazer's takeover of United, in August 2007.

Giggs also has a younger half-sister, Bethany, who was born in 1991 to his mother and her second husband.

He was a pupil at Moorside High School in Swinton from 1985 until 1990.

Campaigner

In recent years, Giggs has also become a UNICEF representative, launching a campaign to prevent landmines from killing children in 2002.

Giggs, who had visited UNICEF projects in Thailand, told the BBC: "As a footballer I can't imagine life without the use of one of my legs...Sadly this is exactly what happens to thousands of children every year when they accidentally step on a landmine." Giggs is also an active campaigner in the fight against racism in football, alongside fellow mixed-raced players like Rio Ferdinand and Thierry Henry.

He told the Football Anti-Racism site 'Stop the BNP' the following in 2004: "A lot of people don't know that my father is black. He was a professional rugby player in the area that I played as a youngster. So a lot of people who I went to school with knew who he was and knew that he was black. So I would get racist taunts in school."

He also added in the French sports newspaper, L'Equipe, "Looking at me from the outside, it is not very obvious, I know but half my family is black and I feel close to their culture and their colour. I am proud of my black roots and of the black blood that runs in my veins. I do not wish to hide my origins, nor do I seek to make it a subject of conversation. I am what I am."

Giggs is also a patron of the Manchester-based 'five Star Scanner Appeal', a charity that aims to raise £1m to fund a new scanner at a new Manchester Children's Hospital due to be built ready for 2009.

Career statistics

Manchester United Career:

As of match played 23 March 2008

Competition Start End All Appearances (as sub) Goals Assists Goals per game
Domestic Leagues 1991 528 (63) 100 228 0.1931
European Competitions 1994 114 (8) 26 28 0.2523
FA Cup 1991 62 (7) 10 26 0.1887
League Cup 1991 30 (5) 7 8 0.2800
Other competitive matches 1991 14 (1) 1 0.0714
Total 1991 748 (84) 143 284 0.1970

Honours

Club

Manchester United (1990-present)

  • FA Premier League - Champion (9): 1992-93, 1993-94, 1995-96, 1996-97, 1998-99, 1999-00, 2000-01, 2002-03, 2006-07
  • FA Premier League - Runner Up: 1994-95, 1997-98, 2005-06
  • FA Youth Cup Winner: 1992
  • FA Cup Winner (4): 1994, 1996, 1999, 2004
  • FA Cup Runner Up: 1995, 2005, 2007
  • League Cup Winner (2): 1992, 2006
  • League Cup Runner Up: 1994, 2003
  • Community Shield Winner (6): 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 2003, 2007
  • Community Shield Runner Up: 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2004
  • UEFA Champions League Winner: 1998-99
  • UEFA Super Cup Winner: 1991
  • UEFA Super Cup Runner Up: 1999
  • Intercontinental Cup: 1999

Individual

  • Barclays Premiership Player of the Month: August, 2006, February 2007.
  • Intercontinental Cup Man of the Match: 1999
  • Manchester United Players Player of the Year Award: 2005/2006
  • U-21 European Footballer of the Year: (1993)
  • Wales Player of the Year Award: 1996, 2006
  • Inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame: 2005
  • Inducted into the Premiership Team of the Decade: 2003
  • Inducted into the FA Challenge Cup Team of the Century: 2006
  • Only Manchester United player to have played in all 9 Premiership title winning teams; also a record of English title holders overall
  • Only Manchester United player to have played in both League Cup winning teams
  • Only player to have scored in 12 consecutive Champions League tournaments
  • Along with Gary Speed, the only player to have scored in every Premier League campaign since its inception
  • Member of PFA Team of the Year: 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2001, 2007
  • OBE for services to football
Awards
Preceded by
Flag of Wales Neville Southall
BBC Wales Sports Personality of the Year
1996
Succeeded by
Flag of Wales Scott Gibbs
Preceded by
Lee Sharpe
PFA Young Player of the Year
1992 and 1993
Succeeded by
Andy Cole
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Gary Neville
Manchester United F.C. Vice-captain
2005-
Succeeded by
Incumbent
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