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Ryan Giggs

giggs.jpg

Overview

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, two 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 2007–08 season when regular captain Gary Neville was ruled out with various injuries.


Beginnings

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, 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 early on. That season, Giggs played in the team that finished as runners-up to Leeds United in the final year of 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.

Superstardom

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.

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. A book based on the series was also released. He was part of the league's attempt to market itself globally, re-forging its image after the hooliganism-affected years of the 1980s.

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 and Martin Keown before launching his left-footed strike just under David Seaman's bar and beyond him. 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 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 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.

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. 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 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.

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. This would keep him at Old Trafford until at least June 2008. 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 1-1 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 1-1 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 2007-08 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 signed a contract extension that will keep him at Old Trafford until the end of the 2008-09 season, when he will be 35. His manager has since hinted that this contract could be extended, but that in the future he is unlikely to keep his position on the wing, instead playing in less energy sapping central roles.

Until the start of the 2008/2009 season, Giggs is one of only two players to have scored in every single FA Premier League season since its inception in 1992. Giggs scored his 100th league goal for United against Derby County on 8 December 2007, which United won 4-1. 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 the League title for United and also marking the tenth time he has won the FA Premier League trophy. 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 6-5 on penalties after a 1-1 draw after extra time. Giggs converted what became the winning penalty in sudden-death for United and joined Steve McManaman and team-mate Owen Hargreaves in becoming the only British players to have played in and won multiple Champions League finals.

At the start of Manchester United's 2008/2009 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 2 assists in 2 games, against Middlesbrough and AAB 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."

Source: Ryan Giggs (Wikipedia)