Ryan Giggs announces retirement
Ryan Giggs has brought the curtain down on his record-breaking Manchester United playing career to concentrate on coaching after being appointed assistant manager.
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The 40-year-old, who is the most decorated player in United's history, said he had lived his dream as a player and was thrilled to become new manager Louis van Gaal's second in command.
Giggs made 963 appearances for United -- the most any player has made for one club -- and won 34 trophies, including 13 Premier League titles, more than anyone else, and the Champions League twice, in 1999 and 2008.
He debuted aged 17 in March 1991 and played his final game when, as interim manager, he brought himself off the bench in a 3-1 win over Hull.
In an open letter to supporters on United's official website, Giggs said he felt was fortunate to have enjoyed such a career and thanked former manager Sir Alex Ferguson.
He wrote: "Today is a fantastic day for Manchester United. Louis van Gaal is a great appointment and let me begin by telling you how delighted I am to be working with someone of his calibre. His credentials are second to none and I'm positive the club will thrive under his leadership over the coming years.
"I would also like to take this opportunity to announce my retirement from professional football and embark upon a new and exciting chapter in my life, as assistant manager of Manchester United. I am immensely proud, honoured and fortunate to have represented the biggest club in the world 963 times and Wales 64 times.
"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. I have always felt and appreciated your support.
"I want to also give a huge thanks to the backroom staff and support teams we have and have had at Manchester United over the years. I would not have achieved the success I have without your continuing dedication and commitment to creating the best environment to enable the players to thrive. I would not have won 34 trophies in my career without you. I would also like to say a special thanks to my friends and family for all your love and support.
"For me, today is a new chapter filled with many emotions - immense pride, sadness, but most of all, excitement towards the future. United fans I hope will share and echo my belief that the club, the management and owners, are doing everything they can to return this great club to where it belongs, and I hope to be there every step of the way. To the greatest fans in world football, thank you, I have loved every minute of playing for you and representing the biggest and best club in the world."
Ryan Giggs retires today....so many gold medals he puts B.A. Baracus to shame! No player adapted their game as well & as effective as Giggsy- Rio Ferdinand (@rioferdy5) May 19, 2014
Executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward paid tribute to Giggs, whom he described as a United legend whose feats will never be repeated, and branded the Welshman the best British footballer of the last quarter of a century.
He said: "Ryan Giggs has been one of the greatest players ever to wear the red shirt of Manchester United. What he has achieved will never be equalled in the English game. In the way he played, he was the embodiment of a Manchester United player -- fast, skilful, entertaining and determined to win by playing exciting football.
"His progress from the ranks of the famous Class of '92 to the most decorated player in this or any club's history is down to his hard work, ability and attitude. He is at the start of an exciting new chapter in his and the club's life but now is the right moment to reflect on the achievements of the finest British player of the last 25 years."