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Ryan Giggs: Manchester United confirm club legend's departure

Manchester United have confirmed that club legend Ryan Giggs has ended his 29-year stay at Old Trafford.

The former Wales international, the most decorated player in English football history, leaves following the arrival of new boss Jose Mourinho.

Giggs says his decision to depart is so that he can pursue a managerial career, although he admits he has "no immediate plans to step into management" yet.

"After 29 seasons at Manchester United as a player and assistant manager, I know winning is in the DNA of this club -- giving youth a chance, and playing attacking and exciting football," he said in a statement. "It's healthy to have high expectations, it's right to expect to win. Manchester United expects, deserves, nothing less.

"This is why it is a huge decision for me to step away from the club that has been my life since the age of 14. It has not been a decision that I have made lightly. I'll take away so many special memories as well as a lifetime of experiences that will, I hope, serve me well in the future.

"However, the time feels right and, although I have no immediate plans to step into management, it is where I want to be."

His United career began when he joined the club's academy at the age of 14, and he made his senior debut against Everton at the age of 17 in March 1991.

Giggs had a year left on his deal as United assistant manager, but has opted to leave with Mourinho set to appoint Rui Faria to that role.

The 42-year-old, who ended a playing career which included 13 Premier League titles in May 2014, was unable to reach agreement on a reduced role in the coaching setup at Old Trafford.

Giggs -- who made 963 appearances for United -- took charge as caretaker manager for four games following the sacking of David Moyes in April 2014.

He was linked with a move to Swansea last season -- but his campaign instead ended with Louis van Gaal's United winning the FA Cup.

But Dutchman Van Gaal was dismissed soon afterwards, and reports suggested Giggs was frustrated not to have been considered before Mourinho's appointment was revealed in May.

"I've been extremely fortunate in having two great managerial mentors; first in Sir Alex [Ferguson], who I've spent the majority of my life working with and learning from and who I believe will remain as football's greatest-ever manager and in more recent times, Louis van Gaal, whose CV speaks for itself. The knowledge I have gleaned from them has been invaluable," Giggs added, failing to mention Moyes.

"I want to reiterate my thanks to the backroom staff and support teams at Manchester United I've worked with over the years. The results on the pitch are a reflection of the hard work off it. I would not have achieved the success I have without the dedication, sacrifice and commitment of these people in creating the best environment for the team to succeed."

Confirmation that Giggs would go came after a source told ESPN FC on June 1 that he had rejected a different role on Mourinho's coaching staff.

The Daily Telegraph and The Times reported that United had offered the 42-year-old a role linking the first team and under-21s, but that he had instead decided it was time to forge a career as a manager in his own right.

"I want to congratulate Jose Mourinho on his appointment as manager of the world's biggest club," Giggs added. "There are only a handful of proven winners at the very highest level and Jose is unquestionably one of them. I know the fans will welcome him.

"My final thank you is to the fans. I cannot begin to tell you how much I will miss walking out at Old Trafford in front of you. It's extremely difficult to say goodbye after 29 years. I have loved every minute both as a player and assistant manager. The support you have always shown me has been phenomenal; thank you.

"It's time for a new chapter and a new challenge. I'm excited about the future -- I've had the best apprenticeship into management anyone could ever ask for."

Ryan Giggs
Ryan Giggs turned down a reduced role on the United coaching staff.

United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward added: "Ryan's place in the history of Manchester United is assured. He has been a constant presence at the club since 1987 and, during his playing days, regularly delighted crowds; first with his dazzling wing play and later with his intelligence and ability to dictate a game.

"He has tackled his coaching and management responsibilities with similar rigour and diligence. The experiences and discipline he developed at United will undoubtedly be a big help as he continues to learn his trade. He has all the attributes to be a terrific manager in the future. Everyone at the club wishes him well in his new career. He will be missed but will always be welcome at Manchester United."

Steve Round, United assistant boss under Moyes, said he believed Giggs could still return as United boss one day.

Round, who left when Moyes was sacked in April 2014, believes Giggs needed to leave to gain managerial experience elsewhere.

"It could be detrimental in the short term. But, from Ryan's perspective, he obviously wasn't going to get the Manchester United job," Round told Sky Sports.

"They have gone for a world-class coach in Jose Mourinho, who has been there, experienced it and done it. Ryan Giggs hadn't got that experience of management.

"It's now his opportunity to step out of Manchester United and go and be a manager.

"If he can be a success, and I really hope he can, then who's to say that, in five, six, seven, eight years, he can't come back to Manchester United as an experienced manager who can take them forward post-Jose?"

Manchester United correspondent Arindam Rej contributed to this report.

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