Ryan Giggs will take his place alongside new Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal when the deposed 2012/13 champions attempt to make it 14 Premier League titles next year at 7/1 odds, after the 40-year-old finally called time on his 23-and-a-bit season playing career.
The occasion could not be let pass without a look back at some of Giggs’ Man Utd highlights, including his goalscoring debut, a certain FA Cup strike and a surprise curtain call.
Grabbing the only goal in his first United start against Manchester City
The then teenage Giggs claimed afterwards that the goal actually went in off City defender Colin Hendry, but being responsible for the winner in the Manchester derby was a hell of a way to kick off life in professional football.
Winning the FA Youth Cup with the rest of the ‘Class of 92’
Having already started to establish himself in the first team, Giggs returned to the underage setup to help teammates such as Robbie Savage, Ben Thornley and Raphael Burke…plus David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt and a couple of Nevilles, begin Sir Alex Ferguson’s Red Devils dynasty.
Bagging the equaliser at home to Blackburn prior to United’s first Premier League coronation
A first league championship for 26 years may have already been assured after Aston Villa’s 1-0 loss at home to Oldham, but Rovers striker Kevin Gallagher threatened to ruin the carnival atmosphere at Old Trafford with an eighth-minute opener.
Giggs struck back 13 minutes later before second-half efforts from Paul Ince and Gary Pallister ensured United won the day as well as the inaugural Premier League title.
Keeping the Red Devils in their 1999 Champions League semi-final against Juventus
Roy Keane constantly receives deserved plaudits for his lionhearted performance during the 3-2 win in Turin 15 years ago, but Giggs’ fine 90th-minute strike to make it 1-1 at Old Trafford boosted morale ahead of the trip to Italy after a poor home performance.
Scoring ‘that goal’ against Arsenal to reach the 1999 FA Cup final
If the football world was unaware of the Welshman’s impressive chest rug prior to this Villa Park clash, they certainly knew about it afterwards.
Gunners defender Lee Dixon will have caught a particularly large eyeful, having been beaten twice by Giggs during his famous run, which left a total of four Arsenal stars in its wake.
Coming off the bench to score in his 758th game for United, equalling Sir Bobby Charlton’s club record
After putting his side 2-0 up against Wigan on the final day of the 2007/08 Premier League campaign, the winger went on to break Charlton’s record in United’s next fixture – the Champions League final win over Chelsea.
Bringing himself on against Hull for a 963rd appearance, after taking over as interim player/manager
Striker James Wilson outdid his temporary gaffer with two goals on his first start for the club, while captain Nemanja Vidic received a cracking send-off in his last United match at Old Trafford, but the sight of Giggs making his final bow in a red shirt topped both.