On Friday, football legend Ryan Giggs turned 40 years old, just two days after putting in a man of the match performance against Bayer Leverkusen. And he’s showing no signs of stopping! To celebrate, I look back on his 22 year career, in which he has played a whopping 1,021 games* (and counting) for club and country.
“If I’d moved from club to club I’d be finished by now” Giggs said this week and one of the reasons why he is such a legend is that he is one of very few ‘one club wonders’ still playing.
The Welshman actually started his career in the Manchester City youth set-up, but switched to United aged 14 and signed his first professional contract at Old Trafford on his 17th birthday.
When Giggs made his debut for the Red Devils against Everton in March 1991, John Major was Prime Minister, Bart Simpson was number one in the charts, the Birmingham Six were still in jail and Kevin Costner was about to clean up at the Oscars with Dances With Wolves.
More than two decades on, the Welshman has made 953 appearances* for the club, scoring 168 goals. This tally is more than Mark Hughes’, Paul Scholes’ and Cristiano Ronaldo’s for the Red Devils.
He has won a total 34 trophies, making him the most decorated player in English football history. This haul includes 13 English League trophies – the same number Arsenal Football Club has in it’s entire history.
It is also a fascinating stat that he has never been sent off in his club career, making him a role model on the pitch.
In the 2008-09 season, he was award the PFA Player of the Year Award, 17 years after he won the first of two PFA Young Player of the Year Awards in 1992 (the other came the following season).
He has been named in the Premier League team of the season six times and won BBC Sports Personality of the Year for 2009. Furthermore, in 2007, he was awarded an OBE for services to football. Many other trophies and individual awards are all in his cabinet, but there are far too many to mention.
*All stats correct up until the time of writing (30/11/13)
Wales & Team GB
When Giggs made his international debut in 1991, he broke the record as the youngest debutant for Wales and held it for some seven years when it was broken by Ryan Green in June 1998.
He went on to win 64 caps, and scored twelve goals for the Welsh national team between 1991 and 2007. He was appointed captain of Wales in 2004.
Often called one of the best players to never play at the World Cup, Giggs did play in the London 2012 players as one of the three over-aged players selected for Team GB’s squad, making four appearances – scoring twice
That goal against the UAE made him the oldest goalscorer in the Football competition at the Summer Olympics at 38 years and 243 days, beating an 88-year-old record that was held by Egypt’s Hussein Hegazi.
What they said about the Welshman
“I remember the first time I saw him. He was 13 and he floated across the ground like a cocker spaniel chasing a piece of silver paper in the wind” – Former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson
“He’s an outstanding player and it’s a privilege to be working with him on my staff. I’ve seen something different since I’ve come here – just how good he is, close up – and it’s incredible” – Manchester United manager David Moyes
“Ryan Giggs for me is one of the best players in the world. Now maybe he is old but he is a fantastic player” – Former Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini
“Maybe one day people will say I was another Ryan Giggs” – Manchester United legend George Best
“Only two players made me cry when watching football, one was Diego Maradona and the other Ryan Giggs” – Italian World Cup winner Alessandro Del Piero
“I can’t remember exactly how old I was but I remember pretending to be Ryan in the back garden” – Manchester United midfielder Tom Cleverley
“Every day of the week, every week of the year for the last 15 years he has been a top player” – Cardiff manager Malky Mackay.
Happy Birthday Ryan!
I cannot think of any better player that has played in the Premier League, with the awards and achievements Giggs has.
You may think I have mentioned all the records he has broken, but there are many, many more I could include.
His personal life aside, he is one of the best footballers to be a role model for youngsters and I have no doubt that when he retires, his knowledge and experience will mean he becomes an equally successful manager.
But when that will be is anyone’s guess, the Welsh wizard still has a few more years left in him yet…