Ryan Joseph Giggs OBE (born Wilson; born 29 November 1973) is a Welsh football coach and former player. He is the manager of the Wales national team and a co-owner of Salford City. He played his entire professional career for Manchester United and briefly served as the club's interim manager.
The son of rugby union and Wales international rugby league footballer Danny Wilson, Giggs was born in Cardiff but moved to Manchester at the age of six when his father joined Swinton RLFC. Predominantly a left winger, he began his career with Manchester City, but joined Manchester United on his 14th birthday in 1987. He made his professional debut for the club in 1991 and spent the next 23 years in the Manchester United first team. At the end of the 2013–14 season, he was named as Manchester United's interim player-manager following the sacking of
David Moyes. He was named as assistant manager under Moyes' permanent replacement, Louis van Gaal, on 19 May 2014; he retired from playing the same day. He holds the club record for competitive appearances. At international level, Giggs played for the Wales national team 64 times between 1991 and 2007, and was named as the captain of the Great Britain team that competed at the 2012 Summer Olympics. He is one of only 28 players to have made over 1,000 career appearances.
During his time at United, Giggs won 13 Premier League winner's medals, four FA Cup winner's medals, three League Cup winner's medals, two UEFA Champions League winner's medals, a FIFA Club World Cup winners medal, an Intercontinental Cup winner's medal, a UEFA Super Cup winner's medal and nine FA Community Shield winner's medals. Manchester United and Liverpool are the only clubs in English football history to have won more league championships than Giggs. Giggs captained United on numerous occasions, particularly in the 2007–08 season when regular captain Gary Neville was ruled out with various injuries.
Giggs also has a number of personal achievements. He was the first player in history to win two consecutive PFA Young Player of the Year awards (1992 and 1993), though he did not win the PFA Player of the Year award until 2009. He was the only player to play in each of the first 22 seasons of the Premier League, as well as the only player to score in each of the first 21 seasons. He was elected into the PFA Team of the Century in 2007, the Premier League Team of the Decade in 2003, as well as the FA Cup Team of the Century. Giggs holds the record for the most assists in Premier League history, with 162. He was named as BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 2009. In addition to the many honours Giggs has received within football, he was appointed an OBE in the Queen's 2007 Birthday Honours List for his services to football.
Giggs was born at St David's Hospital in Canton, Cardiff, to Danny Wilson, a rugby union player for Cardiff RFC, and Lynne Giggs (now Lynne Johnson). Giggs is mixed race – his paternal grandfather is from Sierra Leone – and has spoken of the racism he faced as a child. As a child, Giggs grew up in Ely, a suburb of western Cardiff. His younger brother, Rhodri, is a former manager of non-league Salford City.
He spent much time with his mother's parents and playing football and rugby league on the roads outside their house in Pentrebane. In 1980, when Giggs was six years old, his father switched from rugby union to rugby league, and signed for Swinton RLFC, forcing the whole family to move north to Swinton, a town in Salford, Greater 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.
After moving to Salford, Giggs appeared for the local team, Deans FC, who were coached by Manchester City scout Dennis Schofield. 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, was man of the match, and the trophy was presented to him by Liverpool chief scout Ron Yeats. Giggs also played rugby league at schoolboy level.
While playing for Deans, Giggs was observed regularly by local newsagent and Old Trafford steward Harold Wood. Wood spoke personally to Alex Ferguson who sent a scout, and Giggs was eventually offered a trial over the 1986 Christmas period. 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. On 29 November 1987 (his 14th birthday), Ferguson turned up at Giggs' house with United scout Joe Brown and offered him two years on associate schoolboy forms. They offered to waive YTS forms, and persuaded Giggs to sign by offering the opportunity to turn professional in three years. Using the name Ryan Wilson, Giggs captained England at schoolboy level, playing at Wembley Stadium against Germany in 1989. He changed his surname to that of his mother at the age of 16, when his mother remarried, two years after his parents' separation.
Giggs was offered his first professional contract on 29 November 1990 (his 17th birthday). He accepted the contract and became a professional two days later (1 December 1990).
At this time, United had recently won the FA Cup – their first major trophy since the appointment of Alex Ferguson as manager in November 1986. After two seasons in the league where they had finished mid table, they were finally starting to threaten the dominance of Liverpool and Arsenal, though they only managed to finish sixth that season. Ferguson's quest for a successful left winger had not been an easy one since the departure of Jesper Olsen two years earlier; he had initially signed Ralph Milne, but the player was not a success at United and lasted just one season in the first team before Ferguson secured the Southampton winger Danny Wallace in September 1989. Wallace had failed to shine at Old Trafford, and by the time Giggs turned professional Wallace was contending with 19-year-old Lee Sharpe for the role of first choice left winger.
Giggs made his League debut against Everton at Old Trafford on 2 March 1991, as a substitute for the injured full-back Denis Irwin in a 2–0 defeat.
In his first full start, Giggs was credited with his first ever goal in a 1–0 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. Lee Sharpe, who had won the race to displace Danny Wallace, took to the field as United's left winger, while Wallace was selected as a substitute. Giggs became a first-team regular early in the 1991–92 season, yet remained active with the youth system and captained 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. As the youngest member of the United first-team squad, Giggs looked to the older players such as Bryan Robson for advice. Robson recommended that Giggs sign up with Harry Swales, the agent that he himself had inherited from Kevin Keegan.
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. United had led the table for much of the season before a run of dismal results in April saw them overtaken by the West Yorkshire side. 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 – the award which had been credited to his colleague Lee Sharpe a year earlier.
By the start of the 1992–93 season, the first season of the newly formed Premier League, Giggs had ousted Sharpe to become United's first-choice left winger. He was recognised as one of English football's two best emerging young wingers, alongside Steve McManaman, who were notable for being a throwback to the Stanley Matthews era of the 1950s winger. Giggs helped United to their first top-division title win for 26 years.
His emergence and the arrival of Eric Cantona heralded the dominance of United in the Premier League. Ferguson was 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. United won the double that season, and Giggs was one of their key players alongside the likes of Cantona, Paul Ince and Mark Hughes. Giggs also played for United in the Football League Cup final, where they lost 3–1 to Aston Villa.
Off the pitch, newspapers claimed Giggs had "single-handedly revolutionised football's image" when he appeared as teenager "with pace to burn, a bramble patch of black hair bouncing around his puppy popstar face, and a dazzling, gluey relationship between his impossibly fleet left foot and a football." As a result of this, he was afforded many opportunities not normally offered to footballers at his young age, such as hosting his own television show, Ryan Giggs' Soccer Skills, which aired in 1994, and also had a book based on the series. Giggs was part of the Premier League's attempt to market itself globally, and he featured on countless football and lad mag covers, becoming a household name and fuelling the era where footballers started to become celebrity idols on a par with pop stars, in and around the mid to late 1990s. Despite his aversion to attention, Giggs also became a teenage pin-up and was once described as the "Premiership's First Poster Boy," and the "boy wonder." He was hailed as the first football star to capture the public imagination in a way unseen since the days of George Best; the irony was that Best and Bobby Charlton used to describe Giggs as their favourite young player, turning up at The Cliff training ground just to watch him. Best once quipped, "One day they might even say that I was another Ryan Giggs."
At the end of the 1993–94 season, Giggs won a second title in a row, and became the first player in history to win two consecutive PFA Young Player of the Year awards, a feat equalled by Robbie Fowler and Wayne Rooney.
Giggs proved to be a scorer of great goals, with many of them being shortlisted for various Goal of the Season awards. Widely regarded as among his best were those against Queens Park Rangers in 1993, Tottenham in 1994, Everton in 1995, Coventry in 1996, and his solo effort against Arsenal in the replay of the 1999 FA Cup semi-final. During extra time, Giggs picked up possession after Patrick Vieira gave the ball away, then ran from his own half, dribbled 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 his reach. He famously whipped off his shirt during his goal celebration as he ran over to his teammates. 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 are decided in a single game, with extra time and a penalty shootout if required.
1994–95 saw Giggs restricted through injury to 29 Premier League games and only 1 goal. Later in the season he recovered his form and fitness, though it was too late to help United to any major trophies. A failure to beat West Ham United on the final day of the season saw them lose the Premier League title to Blackburn Rovers. A week later, Giggs came on as a substitute in the FA Cup final against Everton, but United lost 1–0.
On a more positive side in the 1994–95 season, Giggs did get on the scoresheet twice in the opening Champions League game against IFK Göteborg (a 4–2 win, although United ultimately failed to progress to the quarter-finals) and also managed a goal in the FA Cup fourth around victory over Wrexham, meaning that he had managed four goals in all competitions that season.
In 1995–96, Giggs returned to full form and played a vital part in United's unique second double, with his goal against Everton at Goodison Park on 9 September 1995 being shortlisted for the "goal of the season" award, though it was eventually beaten by a goal by Manchester City's Georgi Kinkladze. In November that season, Giggs scored two goals in a Premier League match against Southampton, where United won 4–1 to keep up the pressure on a Newcastle United side who actually went ten points clear on 23 December but were finally overhauled by United in mid-March. Giggs was also in the side for United's FA Cup final win over Liverpool on 11 May 1996, though Eric Cantona scored the only goal of the game. By now, Giggs had several new key colleagues in youngsters Gary Neville, Phil Neville, Nicky Butt, David Beckham and Paul Scholes. Beckham took over from Andrei Kanchelskis on the right wing and Butt succeeded Paul Ince in central midfield to complete a new look United midfield along with Giggs and Roy Keane.
The following season, Giggs had his first real chance to shine in Europe. Having played a key role in United winning their third league title in four seasons, he helped them reach the UEFA Champions League semi-finals, the first United side in 28 years to achieve this. However, their hopes of European glory were ended by Borussia Dortmund, who edged them out by winning each leg of the semi-final 1–0. At the end of this season, Juventus' Alessandro Del Piero told Italian media that Giggs was one of his two favourite players, and gave the following memorable quote:
I have cried twice in my life watching a football player; the first one was Roberto Baggio and the second was Ryan Giggs.
In 1997–98, United were pipped to the Premier League title by Arsenal, following a dismal run of form in March and early April, leaving them without a trophy for only the second time since 1989. The following season, Giggs missed a lot of games through injury, but when he was fit his form was excellent and he played in both of United's cup finals that season. Memorable moments were his extra-time goal in the FA Cup semi-final against arch-rivals Arsenal giving United a 2–1 win, and his 90th-minute equaliser in the home leg of the UEFA Champions League semi-final against Juventus.
The highpoint in the 1998–99 season was when 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 1–0 to claim the Intercontinental Cup later that year.
Giggs became United's longest serving player when Denis Irwin left in May 2002, and he became a pivotal part of the club, despite still being in his 20s. 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. In April 2001, he signed a new five-year contract.
Giggs celebrated his 10-year anniversary at Old Trafford with a testimonial match against Celtic at the start of the 2001–02 campaign, losing 4–3 in a game featuring a cameo by Eric Cantona.However, this was one of the most disappointing seasons United had endured since Giggs made his debut, as a dismal run of form in early winter ultimately cost them the league title and they were surprisingly knocked out of the Champions League on away goals in the semi finals by German underdogs Bayer Leverkusen. A year later, on 23 August 2002, he bagged his 100th career goal in a draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
The 2002–03 season was one to forget for Giggs. He was forced to defend his poor form, insisting that he was not finished. This dip in form included being booed off the pitch in the 74th minute of a 1–1 semi-final first leg draw at home to Blackburn Rovers in the Worthington Cup on 7 January and an open-goal miss during a 2–0 defeat against Arsenal in the FA Cup on 16 February that was described as the worst of his career, and prompted chants by the Arsenal fans of "Give it to Giggsy." A week later, on 24 February, Manchester United chief executive Peter Kenyon refused to rule out the possibility of Giggs leaving Old Trafford, saying: "It's too soon to say whether we would even consider a bid, and all we want to do at the moment is concentrate on this season." It was further claimed that a rift in the dressing room was contributing towards Giggs' possible departure.However, the following day, Giggs played one of his most memorable games, in a 3–0 victory against Juventus. After coming on as a substitute for Diego Forlán in the eighth minute, Giggs scored twice, including a goal that would later be heralded as one of his greatest goals and one of his finest Champions League moments.
After speculation all season that Giggs was close to joining Italian club Inter Milan, possibly with Brazilian striker Adriano as a makeweight, Giggs quashed the rumours by saying he was happy at United.
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.
In 2005, Giggs' form had improved and was no longer suffering with the hamstring injuries which had plagued his career, which he attributed to taking up yoga.
As his career progressed, Giggs abandoned his position on the left wing for a more central role.
Giggs signed a two-year contract extension with United when chief executive David Gill relented on his normal policy of not signing players over 30 to contracts longer than one year. Giggs benefited from being largely injury-free aside from a series of hamstring problems.
Giggs scored his first goal of the 2006–07 season in a 2–1 victory over Watford on 26 August 2006, with his goal proving to be the winner. Giggs scored the winner in United's next game, a 1–0 home victory over Tottenham Hotspur on 9 September, scoring a header in the eighth minute. Giggs provided a goal and an assist in the final Champions League group game against Benfica on 6 December, with his free-kick being converted by Nemanja Vidić before Giggs headed in a Cristiano Ronaldo cross.
In February 2007, Giggs scored the final three goals of his season. He scored the final goal in a 4–0 away win against Tottenham on 4 February which put United six points clear of Chelsea. On 20 February, Giggs scored the winning goal against Lille in the Champions League with a quickly taken free-kick that caused the Lille players to walk off the pitch in protest. Giggs later said he was amazed by the situation, as no rule had been broken. On 24 February, Giggs scored the equalising goal against Fulham in a game which United went on to win via a late Cristiano Ronaldo winner to go nine points clear of Chelsea.
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, 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). In the 2007 FA Cup Final, Giggs had a goal ruled out in the 14th minute of extra time after referee Steve Bennett deemed him to have fouled goalkeeper Petr Čech in forcing the ball across the line.
Giggs played a starring role in United's 2007 FA Community 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; the goal was Giggs' first professional goal at Wembley Stadium.
Seen here after the Munich air disaster 50th anniversary match against Manchester City in February 2008, Giggs has made more appearances in the Manchester derby than any other player.
In the 2007–08 season, Alex Ferguson adopted a rotation system between Giggs and newcomers Nani and Anderson. 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. Giggs scored the second goal in that match, sealing his, and United's, 10th 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 won the final, defeating Chelsea 6–5 on penalties after a 1–1 draw after extra time, with Giggs converting the winning penalty in sudden death.
At the start of Manchester United's 2008–09 campaign, Sir Alex Ferguson began placing Giggs at central midfield, behind the forwards, instead of his favoured wing position. Sir Alex Ferguson said in an interview, "(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 Solskjær did.
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. After a successful season, Giggs was short-listed along with four other Manchester United teammates for the PFA Player of the Year. On 26 April 2009, Giggs received the award, despite having started just 12 games throughout the 2008–09 season (at the time of receiving the trophy). This was the first time in his career that Giggs had received the award. Prior to the awards ceremony, Alex Ferguson had given his backing for Giggs to win the award and stated that it would be fitting, given Giggs' long term contribution to the game.Giggs made his 800th appearance for Manchester United on 29 April 2009, in the 1–0 semi-final win over Arsenal in the UEFA Champions League. On 16 May 2009, Manchester United won the Premier League after a 0–0 draw against Arsenal, both United's and Giggs' 11th Premier League titles.
On 12 September 2009, Giggs made his 700th start for United. Giggs scored his 150th goal for United, only the ninth player to do so for the club, against Wolfsburg in his first Champions League game of the season. On 28 November 2009, the eve of his 36th birthday, Giggs scored his 100th Premier League goal – all for Manchester United – scoring the final goal in a 4–1 victory over Portsmouth at Fratton Park, and becoming only the 17th player to reach the milestone in the Premier League.
On 30 November 2009, the day after his 36th birthday, it was reported that Giggs would be offered an additional one-year contract which would run until the end of the 2010–11 season and see him past the 20th anniversary of his first game and first goal for United. On the same day, Giggs was nominated for BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2009, which he subsequently won. On 12 December 2009, Giggs' surpassed countryman Gary Speed's outfield record of 535 Premier League games. On 18 December 2009, Giggs signed a one-year contract extension with United, keeping him at the club until June 2011, taking him past the 20th anniversary of his first professional contract and that of his first-team debut – a rare occurrence of a player reaching the 20-year mark with the same club and with unbroken service.[ On 31 December 2009, Giggs was named the Manchester United Player of the Decade.
On 24 April 2010, Giggs scored the first ever league penalties of his career, netting two penalties in a 3–1 home win over Tottenham Hotspur.
On 16 August 2010, Giggs kept up his record of scoring in every Premier League season since its inception as he netted United's third in their 3–0 home victory over Newcastle United in their opening fixture of the new campaign. As he found the net in the final two seasons of the old Football League First Division, he had now scored in 21 successive top division campaigns. On 17 January 2011, Giggs reached 600 league appearances (all for Manchester United), as he played in their goalless draw against Tottenham at White Hart Lane. Giggs signed a one-year contract extension with Manchester United on 18 February, keeping him at the club until June 2012. On 6 March 2011, Giggs surpassed the Manchester United league appearance record of Bobby Charlton by playing his 607th game against Liverpool. On 26 April, against Schalke 04 in the Champions League semi-final first leg, Giggs scored the first goal from a Wayne Rooney pass, also making himself the oldest goalscorer in Champions League history to date. Giggs also played in the 2011 Champions League final, where Manchester United were defeated 3–1 by Barcelona.
Giggs made his first start of the 2011–12 season in the UEFA Champions League away at Benfica. He scored United's equalising goal in a 1–1 draw at the Estádio da Luz, in the process breaking his own record for the oldest goalscorer in Champions League history. He also became the first man ever to score in 16 different Champions League campaigns, moving clear of Raúl who was tied with Giggs on 15 seasons. Raúl though holds the record for scoring in 14 consecutive Champions league seasons. On 19 November, Giggs played in a league game in his home country of Wales for the first time in his distinguished career against Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium in a United 1–0 win. Giggs maintained his record of scoring in each of the past 22 top-flight seasons by scoring United's third goal against Fulham at Craven Cottage in a 5–0 win on 21 December, his first of the season in the league. On 10 February 2012, Giggs signed a one-year contract extension with Manchester United.
Giggs playing against his hometown club, Cardiff City, for the first time in November 2013
On 26 February 2012, Giggs made his 900th appearance for Manchester United, in a 2–1 away win against Norwich City. He marked the occasion by scoring the winning goal in the 90th minute, scoring from a cross by Ashley Young. After the match, Alex Ferguson told BBC Sport he believed that a player playing in 900 games for one club "won't be done again." By March 2011, Giggs had played with more than 140 different players for the Manchester United first team.
On 19 October 2012, Giggs (just over a month short of his 39th birthday) told The Daily Telegraph that he would like to move into management when he retires as a player. He also said that he was still undecided on whether he would still be playing after the current football season ends.
Giggs scored his first Premier League goal of the 2012–13 season against Everton on 10 February 2013 in a 2–0 home win, extending his goalscoring sequence to 23 consecutive seasons in the highest division including all 21 Premier League seasons.
He signed a new one-year contract with Manchester United on 1 March 2013, keeping him at Old Trafford until June 2014. On 5 March, Giggs made his 1,000th competitive appearance in a 2–1 home loss to Real Madrid in the second leg of the round of 16 of the UEFA Champions League. On 4 July, Giggs was appointed as player-coach by new manager David Moyes with immediate effect.[Giggs became interim player-manager when Moyes was sacked in April 2014.
On 2 October, after coming off the substitute bench against Shakhtar Donetsk, Giggs became all-time leading appearance holder in the European competition, overtaking Raúl, an achievement he described as "special." In November, Giggs celebrated his 40th birthday, leading to media outlets and football figures praising him for reaching the milestone while still an active professional footballer.
Giggs announced his retirement from professional football on 19 May 2014 in an open letter to all Manchester United fans posted on the club website. Upon retirement, Giggs received many plaudits for the achievements he earned throughout his career, and the longevity of it