Monday 19 May 2014
Sir Alex Ferguson has led a flood of tributes from former players and colleagues to the "fantastic career" of Ryan Giggs, who announced the end of his Manchester United playing days on Monday.
"What a fantastic career – the number of games you have played, the trophies you have won, the help you have given young people"
Sir Alex Ferguson
Giggs, who was signed by Ferguson on his 17th birthday in 1990, flourished under the Man United manager, helping him to win 13 Barclays Premier League titles and numerous other domestic and international club honours.
In a video message to Giggs on United's website, the Scot said: "What a fantastic career – the number of games you have played, the trophies you have won, the help you have given young people and the help you have given me and all the coaching staff."
Giggs, who was one of several players to emerge from United's youth academy and given the chance to flourish under Ferguson, went on to become the most decorated player in the English game, making 632 Barclays Premier League appearances and scoring 109 goals in the competition.
His fellow graduates from the "Class of '92" also spoke in glowing terms about the 40-year-old, who was appointed assistant manager to new United manager Louis van Gaal yesterday.
"Amazing servant to the game of course," said former United midfielder and England captain David Beckham. "But more importantly, an amazing servant to Manchester United. We are all proud of you – Manchester United fans love you."
Ex-United defender Gary Neville added his belief that Giggs's record haul of winners' medals would never be matched.
"Well done for everything you have achieved at the club," Neville said. "It is wonderful what you have done and I don't think your achievements will ever be surpassed."
"I don't think your achievements will ever be surpassed"
United's executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward agreed with Neville.
"Ryan Giggs has been one of the greatest players ever to wear the red shirt of Manchester United," he said. "What he has achieved will never be equalled in the English game.
"In the way he played, he was the embodiment of a Manchester United player – fast, skilful, entertaining and determined to win by playing exciting football. His progress from the ranks of the famous 'Class of '92' to the most decorated player in this or any club's history is down to his hard work, ability and attitude.
"He is at the start of an exciting new chapter in his and the club's life but now is the right moment to reflect on the achievements of the finest British player of the last 25 years."
Twitter was also abuzz with praise for the "Welsh wizard". Former team-mate Rio Ferdinand compared him to a character from the TV series, "The A Team", renowned for wearing medallions.
"So many gold medals he puts B.A. Baracus to shame!"
"Ryan Giggs retires today," posted Ferdinand. "So many gold medals he puts B.A. Baracus to shame! No player adapted their game as well & as effective as Giggsy."
United forward Wayne Rooney added: "Congratulations also to Ryan Giggs on a special career and becoming assistant manager, I'm sure he will do a great job."
Former players also paid tribute to Giggs. Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo cited he learnt a lot from the Welshman when he started out at Old Trafford.
“It was a pleasure for me to play with you,” he said. “It was an unbelievable feeling to play with you at 18-years-old, I learnt a lot with you.”
Eric Cantona, whose arrival at Old Trafford in 1992 is seen as being key to transforming the side into champions said: “You have been a great team-mate and a great friend and a great example for everyone. I hope you have a great life after your career as a player: in football as a manager, or whatever.”
Mike Phelan, the former assistant manager at Old Trafford, is in no doubt as to whether Giggs, who became part of David Moyes coaching staff at Old Trafford last summer and then interim manager of the club for the final four matches of the season, has the credentials to enjoy a successful coaching career.
"He definitely has experience on his side and he has the name and the clout behind him because of who he is and what he has achieved," Phelan told BBC Radio 5 Live. "I think [Premier League management] is the natural progression for Ryan, and it will happen in the next two or three years."
Former United midfielder Ray Wilkins also believes the decision to keep Giggs on in a managerial role at Old Trafford has been a masterstroke.
"Ryan knows what Manchester United are all about and Louis [van Gaal] has been very clever in appointing him," Wilkins told Sky Sports News. "Ryan Giggs has worked for the last 20-odd years with the best coach the world has ever seen in Sir Alex Ferguson, so he has learnt off the very, very best."