Reflecting on Ryan Giggs' Man United career, 25 years after his debut
Manchester United have earned praise recently for promoting youth players into their first team -- with Marcus Rashford the latest to take the headlines recently -- and Wednesday marks exactly 25 years since one of their greats made his debut.
Ryan Giggs, currently the club's assistant manager, stepped on to the field against Everton on Mar. 2, 1991, years before the likes of Rashford, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, James Weir, Regan Poole, Joe Riley, Donald Love and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson were born. Wayne Rooney was only five years old.
United manager Louis van Gaal has spoken about the tradition of youth being promoted at the club and said on Sunday that it was one of the reasons he was brought into the club. Giggs is symbolic of that proud tradition.
ESPN FC looks back on that day 25 years ago.
What were the circumstances?
Aged 17 years and three months, Giggs dashed on as a substitute in the 35th minute against Everton at Old Trafford with the number 14 on his back, in place of Denis Irwin. One of the commentators on the day, Clive Tyldesley, remarked when the player entered the field: "Manchester United believe we may be seeing the start of a very special career here this afternoon." Giggs had signed a professional contract for the club at the end of the previous calendar year and Sir Alex Ferguson had already said that the Welshman was the most outstanding talent that he had worked with at that age.
What happened that day?
Giggs came on when the score was 1-0 to Everton -- Mike Newell scored the goal -- and was a fresh face among a team that included experienced heads and promising players. The side included Les Sealey, Lee Martin, Gary Pallister, Darren Ferguson, Mal Donaghy, Lee Sharpe, Paul Ince, Brian McClair, Clayton Blackmore and Danny Wallace. Soon after Giggs came on, Dave Watson added another for the Merseyside club to seal a 2-0 win in front of a crowd of 45,656.
What did he achieve?
Tyldesley was right; "a very special career" was expected by United and they were not disappointed. Giggs went on to play 24 seasons for United and became the club's all-time record appearance maker, featuring 963 times for the club and scoring 168 goals. His footballing professionalism was lauded and his achievements were legendary. In addition to two Champions League titles, he won 13 league titles and scored in each of the Premier League's first 21 seasons. He also won the PFA player of the year award in 2009.
How did United change?
At the end of Giggs's debut season, the 1990-91 campaign, United finished in sixth place, but they were runners-up the following year and then ended their 26-year wait for the title in 1993. That season was the first of the newly-formed Premier League and, after United won it, they never looked back, with Giggs playing an integral part in their success.
Arindam is ESPN FC's Manchester United correspondent. Follow him @ARejSport