Ryan Joseph Giggs
(born Ryan Joseph Wilson
on 29 November 1973 in Canton, Cardiff) is a
Welsh footballer who has played for Manchester United for the entirety of
his club career to-date. He established himself as a left-winger during the
1990s and continued in this position well into the 2000s, but more recently
playing in a deeper playmaking role.
Giggs holds a host of football
records, including that of being the most decorated player in English
football history. On 11 May 2008, he became the first footballer to collect
10 top division English league title medals. Giggs was the first player in
history to win two consecutive PFA Young Player of the Year awards (1992 and
1993) and is the only player to have played and scored in every single
season of the Premier League since its inception, also holding the league's
record for most all time goal assists.
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Giggs has had a long-lasting domestic and continental career and is the
first player in UEFA Champions League history to have scored in 12
successive seasons, on top of being elected into the PFA Team of the Century
the English Premier League Team of the Decade, in 2003, as well as the FA
Cup Team of the Century. Giggs is also the only United player to have played
in all 10 Premier League winning teams and all three League Cup winning
teams. At the 2008 UEFA Champions League Final, held on 21 May 2008, Giggs
surpassed Sir Bobby Charlton's record of 758 appearances for Manchester
United to become the club's all-time leader in appearances.
At international level, Giggs played for the Welsh national team prior to
his retirement from international football on 2 June 2007, and was once the
youngest player to ever represent his country. As well as the many honours
Giggs has received within football such as being named in the Football
League 100 Legends, he was awarded an OBE in the Queen's 2007 Birthday
Honours List, and was inducted into the exclusive English Football Hall of
Fame in 2005, for his services to English Football.
Giggs was born at St David's Hospital in Canton, Cardiff, Wales, to Danny
Wilson, a rugby union player for Cardiff RFC, and Lynne Giggs (now Lynne
Johnson). As a child, Giggs grew up in Ely, a suburb of western Cardiff, but
spent much time with his mother's parents and playing football on the roads
outside their house in Pentrebane. In 1980, when Giggs was six years old,
his father switched rugby codes and signed for Swinton RLC, forcing the
whole family to move north to Manchester. The move was a traumatic one, as
Giggs was very close to his grandparents in Cardiff, but he would often
return there with his family at weekends or on school holidays. Giggs is
mixed race his paternal grandfather is from Sierra Leone and has spoken
of the racism he faced as a child.
After moving to Manchester, Giggs appeared for the local team, Deans FC,
who were coached by Manchester City scout Dennis Schofield. His first game
for Deans ended in a 90 defeat to Stretford Vics, but, nevertheless, many
people commented to Giggs that he was the best player on the pitch that day.
Schofield recommended Giggs to Manchester City, and he was signed up to
their School of Excellence. Meanwhile, Giggs continued to play for Salford
Boys, who went on to reach the final of the Granada Schools Cup competition
at Anfield in 1987. Giggs captained the Salford team to victory over their
Blackburn counterparts, and the trophy was presented to him by Liverpool
chief scout Ron Yeats. Yeats was impressed by Giggs' performance, and would
have recommended him to the Liverpool management, had Giggs not already been
picked up by Manchester United.
While playing for Deans, Giggs would be watched regularly by local
newsagent and Old Trafford steward Harold Wood. Wood regularly told the
senior staff at Manchester United about Giggs, but they did not send anyone
down to watch him until Wood spoke personally to Alex Ferguson. Wood told
the United boss "He's with City at the moment, and if you lose him you'll
regret it". So Ferguson sent a scout to a Deans match, who was impressed
enough that United offered Giggs a trial over the Christmas period in 1986.
Prior to the trial, Giggs played in a match for Salford Boys against a
United Under-15s side at The Cliff and scored a hat trick, with Ferguson
watching from his office window. The following November, on Giggs' 14th
birthday, Ferguson turned up at Giggs's house with United scout Joe Brown
and offered him two years on associate schoolboy forms. They also waived YTS
forms, and persuaded Giggs with the opportunity to turn professional in
three years. Giggs signed there and then.
He represented England at Schoolboy level (using the name Ryan Wilson)
playing at Wembley Stadium against Germany in 1989. Ryan changed his surname
at the age of 16, two years after his parents' separation, so "the world
would know he was his mother's son."
Lawrie McMenemy, then-coach of the England under-21 team, checked to see
whether Giggs was eligible to play for England. However, he was rebuffed
after finding that Giggs had no English grandparents, and was only available
to play for Wales.
Manchester United first team
Giggs made his first appearance for the club during the 1990-91 season
and has been a regular player since the 1991-92 season. He has played the
most competitive games for the club, and holds the club record of team
trophies won by a player (23).
Since 1992, he has collected ten Premier League winner's medals, four FA Cup
winner's medals, three League Cup winner's medals and two Champions League
winner's medals. He also has runner-up medals from two FA Cup finals and two
Football League Cup finals, as well as being part of four United teams to
have finished second in the league. In recent years, Giggs has captained the
team on numerous occasions, particularly in the 200708 season when regular
captain Gary Neville was ruled out with various injuries.
Debut and breakthrough season
Giggs turned professional on 29 November 1990 (his 17th birthday) and
made his League debut against Everton at Old Trafford on 2 March 1991, as a
substitute for Denis Irwin in a 20 defeat. In his first full start, Giggs
was credited with his first ever goal in a 10 win in the Manchester derby
on 4 May 1991, though it appeared to be a Colin Hendry own goal. However, he
was not included in the squad of 16 that defeated Barcelona in the UEFA Cup
Winners' Cup final 11 days later.
He became a first-team regular early in the 1991-92 season, yet remained
active with the youth system - captaining the team, made up of many of "Fergie's
Fledglings", to an FA Youth Cup triumph in 1992. Giggs broke into the first
team even though he was still aged only 17, and paved the way as the first
of many Manchester United youth players to rise into the first team under
Ferguson; a mark of his skill and maturity in the early years of his career.
That season, Giggs played in the team that finished as runners-up to Leeds
United in the final year of the old First Division before the advent of the
Premier League. Giggs 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. At the
end of the season, he was voted PFA Young Player of the Year.
By the start of the 1992-93 season - the first season of the newly formed
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 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 Des Lynam for Match
of the Day in the 1993-94 season.
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 aired in 1994. A book based on the
series was also released. Giggs was part of the league's attempt to market
itself globally, re-forging its image after the hooliganism-blighted years
of the 1980s and was featured in countless football and lad mag covers,
becoming a household name. Despite his aversion to attention, Giggs had also
become a teenage pin-up at the time and was once described as the
"Premiership's First Poster Boy",
and the "boy wonder" -
where he was arguably the original footballer who catapulted the term into
the public lexicon. He was hailed as the first football star to capture the
public imagination in such a popular way unseen since the days of George
and the irony was that Best and Bobby Charlton used to described Giggs as
their favourite young player, specially turning up at The Cliff training
ground to watch him, where Best once quipped, "One day they might even say
that I was another Ryan Giggs."
Giggs' popularity heralded a new era in football fandom and was also once
described as the "boy who converted a million innocent teenage hearts into
United fans". Giggs'
emergence came at a time where football was becoming more popular and less
working class and he was trapped in the fame superhighway where photogenic
young players became pop star-like figures, and it was not uncommon to have
roads blocked and traffic jams when Giggs was at booksignings.
Such was Giggs' talent that words like "genius" and "magician" were often
flaunted in descriptions of him by team mates like Paul Ince, and Gary
Pallister said that United defenders used to say they had "got twisted blood
trying to mark him in training".
Steve Bruce also said that "When Ryan ran, he ran like the wind. You
couldn't hear him he was that light on his feet. He had that natural body
swerve, that way with a ball only the great players have got. No disrespect
to [David] Beckham and Scholesy, but he's the only one who was always going
to be a superstar."
His goals were regularly shortlisted for various Goal of the Season
awards, and tended to be memorable, particularly the ones against Queens
Park Rangers in 1993, Tottenham in 1994, Everton in 1995, Coventry in 1996,
and the most remarkable of all, his 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, Lee Dixon and Martin Keown before launching his left-footed strike
just under David Seaman's bar and beyond him. It also has 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 shootout if required.
By the late 1990s, with the retirement of Eric Cantona and the emergence
of younger players like David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Gary Neville, Philip
Neville and Nicky Butt, Giggs' media profile diminished and he 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 to give United a 2-1 win, and
his 90th minute equaliser in the home leg of the UEFA Champions League
semi-final against Juventus.
Giggs set up the equalising goal scored by Teddy Sheringham in the 1999
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.
Giggs was one of United's most experienced and senior players when Denis
Irwin left in May 2002, and he became a pivotal part of the club, despite
still being only 28 years old. 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 UEFA 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 200102 campaign. A
year later, he bagged his 100th career goal in a draw with Chelsea at
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.
After that season, Giggs signed a two-year contract extension with United
when chairman David Gill relented on his normal policy of not signing
players over 30 to contracts longer than one year. He has subsequently
signed two further one-year contact extensions, to keep him at Old Trafford
until at least June 2010, when he will be 36. Giggs has also benefited from
being largely injury-free aside from a series of hamstring problems.
On 6 May 2007, with Chelsea only able to manage a 11 draw with London
rivals Arsenal, Manchester United became the champions of England. In doing
so, Ryan Giggs set a new record of nine league titles, 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 United's 2007
Charity Shield victory after netting in the first half to bring the game to
a 11 draw, which led to penalty triumph for the Red Devils after keeper
Edwin van der Sar saved all of Chelsea's first three penalties.
In the 200708 season, Alex Ferguson adopted a rotation system between
Giggs and newcomers Nani and Anderson. Nevertheless, Giggs remained the
favoured choice for the anticipated clash with Chelsea at Old Trafford and
put in a cross with the outside of his boot for Carlos Tevez to score his
first United goal.
Giggs scored his 100th league goal for United against Derby County on 8
December 2007, which United won 41.
More landmarks have been achieved: on 20 February 2008 he made his 100th
appearance in the UEFA Champions League in a game against Lyon
and on 11 May 2008 he came on as a substitute for Park Ji-Sung to equal Sir
Bobby Charlton's record of 758 appearances for United.
Fittingly, Giggs scored the second goal in that match, sealing his, and
United's, tenth Premier League title. Ten days later, on 21 May 2008, Giggs
broke Bobby Charlton's appearance record for United when coming on as an
87th minute substitute for Paul Scholes in the Champions League Final
against Chelsea. United would go on to win the Final, defeating Chelsea 65
on penalties after a 11 draw after extra time. Giggs converted what became
the winning penalty in sudden-death for United (after Chelsea's Nicolas
Anelka missed the final penalty) and joined Steve McManaman and team-mate
Owen Hargreaves in becoming the only British players to have played in and
won more than one Champions League final.
At the start of Manchester United's 200809 campaign, Sir Alex Ferguson
began placing Ryan Giggs at central midfield, behind the forwards, instead
of his favoured wing position. Giggs has since adapted very well to his new
position and supplied two assists in as many games, against Middlesbrough
and Aalborg. Sir Alex Ferguson said in an interview, "Ryan (Giggs) is a very
valuable player, he will be 35 this November but at 35, he can be United's
key player. At 25, Ryan would shatter defenders with his run down the flank,
but at 35, he will play deeper."
Giggs has begun taking his coaching badges and Ferguson has hinted that he
would like Giggs to serve as his coaching staff after retirement like Ole
Gunnar Solskjๆr did.
On 8 February 2009, Giggs maintained his record of being the only player
to score in every season of the Premier League since its inception in 1992
by netting the only goal in a 10 win over West Ham United.
Following speculation earlier in the year,
in February 2009, Giggs signed a one-year extension to his current contract
which was due to expire in June 2009.
As a youngster, Giggs captained England Schoolboys but played for the
Welsh national team as an adult. In 1991, he held the world record for being
the youngest player at the time to play for Wales. He went on to win 64
caps, and scored twelve goals for the Welsh national team between 1991 and
2007. He was appointed captain of Wales in 2004.
Giggs received criticism for his reluctance to participate in friendly
international matches. Since his d้but in 1991 against Germany, Giggs failed
to attend a friendly international until some nine years later, missing 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
In September 2006, Giggs played 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 compliment by stating he would not look
out of place playing for the five-time world champions alongside stars such
as Kakแ and Ronaldinho.
To surprise of some, 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.
He cited concentrating on his United career as the main reason for stepping
down. 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.
Giggs had a very good disciplinary record during his early career
receiving relatively few bookings. In fact, he has never been sent off when
playing for Manchester United and only once when playing for Wales. 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. 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 charged using video evidence.
- Premier League (10): 199293, 199394, 199596, 199697, 199899,
19992000, 200001, 200203, 200607, 200708
- FA Cup (4): 199394, 199596, 199899, 200304
- Football League Cup (3): 199192, 200506, 200809
- FA Community Shield (7): 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 2003, 2007, 2008
- UEFA Champions League (2): 199899, 200708
- UEFA Super Cup (1): 1991
- Intercontinental Cup (1): 1999
- FIFA Club World Cup (1): 2008
- PFA Young Player of the Year: 1992, 1993
- Bravo Award: 1993
- BBC Wales Sports Personality of the Year: 1996
- Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year Award: 199798
- Intercontinental Cup Man of the Match: 1999
- Premier League Team of the Decade: 2003
- English Football Hall of Fame: 2005
- Wales Player of the Year Award: 1996, 2006
- FA Premier League Player of the Month: September 1993, August 2006,
- PFA Team Of The Century: 2007
- PFA Team of the Year: 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1998, 2001, 2007
- Only Manchester United player to have played in all ten Premier
League-winning teams and only player to win 10 league titles
- Only Manchester United player to have played in all three League
- Only player to have scored in eleven consecutive Champions League
- Only player to have scored in thirteen different Champions League
- Only player to have scored in every Premier League campaign since
Orders and special awards
- OBE for services to football.
- Awarded an honorary Master of Arts degree from Salford University on
15 July 2008 for contributions to football and charity work in
Giggs has featured in adverts for Reebok, Sovil Titus, Citizen Watches,
Givenchy, Fuji, Patek Phillipe, Quorn Burgers, ITV Digital and Celcom.
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
currently have two children, Liberty and Zach, and live in Worsley,
In recent years, Giggs has also become a UNICEF representative, launching
a campaign in 2002 to prevent landmines from killing children. 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."
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?"