Manchester United’s star player Ryan Giggs on Monday announced he would retire from playing to assist the club’s new manager, Dutchman Louis van Gaal.
British football’s most decorated player made the announcement in an open letter on United’s website, just an hour after he was named the club’s No. 2 to Van Gaal.
“For me, today is new chapter filled with many emotions – immense pride, sadness, but most of all, excitement towards the future,” the 40-year-old Giggs said, having spent the past 23 years playing for the club.
Giggs will go down as one of the greatest players in the Premier League’s 22-year history. He is certainly its most durable, playing in every season since the league inception in 1992 – first as a flying winger before refining his game to play deeper in midfield.
His solo goal in the FA Cup semifinal replay against Arsenal in 1999, where he set off from inside his own half, ran around three defenders and slammed a shot into the roof of the net, has gone down as one of the greatest goals in English football and will probably be his career highlight on a personal level.
But he was more of a team man, one of the most valuable players in United’s successful, trophy-laden era under Alex Ferguson.
“I am immensely proud, honoured and fortunate to have represented the biggest club in the world 963 times and Wales 64 times,” wrote Giggs, who never played in a World Cup.
“My dream was always to play for Manchester United, and although it saddens me to know I won’t 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.”
He also won four FA Cups, three League Cups, one UEFA Super Cup, an Intercontinental Cup and a Club World Cup. Last season was the only one in his career where he failed to score a Premier League goal.
Groomed for dugout
Toward the end of his career, when his hair became speckled with gray, he relied on speed of thought rather than the speed of his legs, with his games carefully selected in Ferguson’s final seasons. Under David Moyes last season, Giggs was used sparingly with more of the Welshman’s time taken up by his role as coach.
“No player adapted their game as well & as effective as Giggsy,” United defender Rio Ferdinand said on Twitter.
After Teddy Sheringham, Kevin Phillips and Gordon Strachan, Giggs was the fourth outfield footballer to have played in the Premier League in their 40s.
Giggs is being groomed by United as a future manager and he had a brief glimpse of life in the dugout at the end of last season, when he took interim charge for the final four games.
Van Gaal has ‘big ambitions’
Van Gaal, 62, will take over as the new manager after the June-July World Cup in Rio. He has masterminded league titles at some of Europe's biggest clubs, including Barcelona and Bayern Munich, and won the Champions League with Ajax Amsterdam.
"In Louis van Gaal, we have secured the services of one of the outstanding managers in the game today,” the club’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward said in a statement that announced the Dutchman had signed a three-year contract.
"Everyone is very excited about this new phase in the club's history. His track record of success in winning leagues and cups across Europe throughout his career makes him the perfect choice for us."
Van Gaal, who has already been working behind the scenes with United officials regarding potential transfers, is likely to take charge for the first time when United play LA Galaxy in a friendly in Pasadena, California, on July 23 - 10 days after the World Cup final.
"It was always a wish for me to work in the Premier League. To work as a manager for Manchester United, the biggest club in the world, makes me very proud," said Van Gaal, United's first manager from beyond the British Isles.
"This club has big ambitions; I too have big ambitions. Together I'm sure we will make history."
(FRANCE 24 with AP, REUTERS)
Date created : 2014-05-19