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Ryan Giggs

Ryan Joseph Giggs OBE[1] (born Ryan Joseph Wilson on 29 November 1973 in Cardiff) is a Welsh footballer, currently playing for Manchester United in the English Premiership, and formerly for the Welsh national team prior to his retirement from international football on June 2, 2007. Giggs received an OBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours List, alongside his former team mate Teddy Sheringham, who received an MBE.

Giggs' father was Danny Wilson, a noted Rugby League player, and his mother was Lynne Giggs. Although born in Cardiff, he was raised in Pendlebury, England and speaks with a Mancunian accent. His father was of mixed race (of Sierra Leonean ancestry) and Giggs has always expressed pride at his mixed heritage.[2]

Giggs is Manchester United's longest-serving current player, having made his first appearance for the club during the 1990-91 season and been a regular player since the 1991-92 season. He has played the second highest number of competitive games for the club (second only to Bobby Charlton), and holds the club record of team trophies won by a player (23).[3] Since 1992, he has collected nine Premier League winners' medals, four FA Cup winner's medals, two League Cup winner's medals and one Champions League winner's medal. He also has runners-up medals from two FA Cup finals and two League Cup finals, as well as being part of four United teams who have finished second in the league.

Giggs captained England Schoolboys (which all schoolboys in England are eligible to play for, regardless of nationality), but played for the Welsh national team as an adult. At the time of his début in 1991, Giggs (still only 17 at the time) was the youngest player to represent his country at the highest level. He was appointed captain of Wales in 2004.

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He also won the PFA Young Player of the Year award twice (1992 and 1993), making him the first player to win the award in consecutive years - a feat matched only by Robbie Fowler and current team-mate Wayne Rooney. Giggs holds many other records, including that of the top all-time scorer in the FA Premier League not to play regularly in the position of striker, and holds the record for scoring Manchester United's fastest goal (15 seconds), set in November 1995 against Southampton, and is not the only player to have scored in every Premiership campaign, Gary Speed holding that distinction. Also, having scored his first European goal of the season in United’s 3-1 victory over Benfica, Giggs became the first player in Champions League history to score in 12 successive seasons.

Fans have also voted that Giggs scored Manchester United's greatest goal, in the semi-final of the 1999 FA Cup against Arsenal where he beat four defenders (Lee Dixon twice) to score. Giggs' squad number for Manchester United is 11.

Giggs is currently vice-captain to Gary Neville at Manchester United.

Ryan Giggs
Personal information
Full name Ryan Joseph Giggs
Date of birth November 29, 1973 (1973-11-29) (age 33)
Place of birth     Cardiff, Wales
Height 1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)
Playing position Left winger/Second striker
Club information
Current club Manchester United
Number 11
Youth clubs
  Manchester City
Manchester United
Senior clubs1
Years Club App (Gls)*
1990- Manchester United 715 (99)   
National team2
1991-2007 Wales 064 (13)
1 Senior club appearances and goals
counted for the domestic league only and
correct as of May 13, 2007.
2 National team caps and goals correct
as of May 26, 2007.
* Appearances (Goals)

Beginnings

Giggs began his football career as a junior member of Deans Sports F.C. in Swinton and was spotted as a 14-year-old by Manchester City. His dribbling skills were compared to players such as George Best, Diego Maradona, and Johan Cruijff. Giggs' talent became widely recognised, and Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson went to his house personally to urge him to sign for Manchester United instead of Manchester City. He persuaded Giggs by waiving YTS forms with the opportunity to turn professional in three years. Giggs ended up signing with Manchester United.

Similarly, England Under-21 coach Lawrie McMenemy checked to see whether he was eligible to play for the nation. Contrary to popular belief, Giggs could not have played for the full England national side. He was only eligible to play for the England schools' team because he went to school there. To play for the England national football team, he would have needed to have been born in England or have had English parents or grandparents. However, both his parents and all four grandparents are Welsh.

He was arguably the first teenage football poster boy to have garnered such attention since the likes of George Best, a player Giggs has been compared to, and who, alongside Bobby Charlton, personally went down to United's training sessions at 'the Cliff' specifically to watch Giggs play. would earn two PFA Young Player of the Year awards.

Superstardom

In 1994, the BBC described Giggs as "one of the most photographed persons" in Great Britain. Giggs, or "Giggsy", as he was known, was also hailed as one of the FA Premier League's biggest stars and could often be found as the picture-book merchandising icon of the league's early years. He (along with Jamie Redknapp and Lee Sharpe) was part of the league's attempt to market itself globally, re-forging its image after the hooliganism-affected years of the 1980s.

Giggs turned professional on his 17th birthday in November 1990 and made his League debut against Everton F.C. at Old Trafford on 2 March 1991, as a substitute for Denis Irwin. In his first full start, Giggs was credited with his first ever goal in a 1-0 win in the Manchester derby, though it appeared to be a Colin Hendry own goal. He collected his first piece of silverware in April 1992 as United defeated Nottingham Forest in the League Cup Final, after Giggs had set up Brian McClair to score the only goal of the game.

By the start of the 1992-93 season - the first season of the newly-formed FA Premier League, Giggs made the left-wing position at United his own, and became known as one of British football's most prodigious young players. His emergence and the arrival of Eric Cantona (who later claimed that he had a telepathic understanding with/of Giggs) heralded the dominance of United in the new Premier League. His manager was very protective of him, refusing to allow Giggs to be interviewed until he turned 20, eventually granting the first interview to the BBC's Desmond Lynam for Match of the Day.

Giggs' ability to consistently dribble past opposing players by using his own exceptional balance, pace, and skill became the most noticeable aspect of his game. He was also renowned for pre-meditating celebrations with team-mates, such as Paul Ince and Andrei Kanchelskis. He was afforded many opportunities which were not normally offered to footballers at his young age, such as hosting his own television show, Ryan Giggs' Soccer Skills, which was a hit with ITV and Granada in 1994.

Ryan Giggs chants often heard from the fans during the Manchester United games include:

"Ryan Giggs, Ryan Giggs, Running down the wing, Ryan Giggs, Ryan Giggs, Can do anything, Feared by the Blues, Loved by the Reds, Ryan Giggs, Ryan Giggs, Ryan Giggs"

and:

"Giggs, Giggs will tear you apart, again"

the former adapted from the Robin Hood theme; the latter from the Mancunian band Joy Division's song, 'Love Will Tear Us Apart'.

His goals were constantly on shortlists for Goal of the Season and tended to be memorable, particularly the ones against QPR in 1993, Tottenham in 1994, Everton in 1995, Coventry in 1996, and the most remarkable of all, his amazing solo-goal against Arsenal in the replay of the 1999 FA Cup semi-final. During extra time, Giggs picked up possession just after Patrick Vieira had given the ball away, then ran away from the half-way line, dribbling past the whole Arsenal back line, including Tony Adams and Martin Keown before launching his left-footed strike just under David Seaman's bar and beyond him. It has been hailed as the best FA Cup goal of all time by some sections of the media and football fans. It does have the distinction of being the last ever goal scored in an FA Cup Semi-Final Replay as, from the following season, the FA Cup Semi-Finals have been decided in a single game, with extra time and a Penalty Shoot Out if required.

By the late 1990s, with the retirement of Cantona and the emergence of Giggs' fellow fledgling young colleagues like David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Gary Neville, Philip Neville and Nicky Butt, Giggs' popularity and fame gradually evened out and attention was paid to some of the younger stars, especially Beckham. However, his football skill was still marked genius, and he developed into a more mature senior player by the time United won their record breaking and unprecedented "Treble" in 1999. This achievement aided by Giggs' form and key contributions in several tournaments. Memorable moments were his extra-time goal in the FA Cup semi-final against arch-rivals Arsenal (see above) to give United a 2-1 win, and his 90th minute equalizer in the home leg of the Champions League semi-final against Juventus.

Giggs set up the equalising goal scored by Teddy Sheringham in the UEFA Champions League final that set United on their way to the treble. Giggs was also the man of the match as United beat Palmeiras to claim the Intercontinental Cup that year. He is considered by Manchester United fans as one of their greatest players of all time.

In November 2003, Giggs was mentioned in an episode of The Simpsons, entitled "The Regina Monologues", which takes place in England. In response to Marge complaining that Homer punched out three people on the street, Homer replies, "That was over soccer results. Can you believe they gave Giggs a yellow card in the box?!"[2]. Giggs therefore has the distinction of being the only Premiership footballer to be mentioned in the show.

The latter years

Giggs was one of United's most experienced and senior players at United when Denis Irwin left, and he became a pivotal part of the club. According to a BBC Sport article in 2003, "the trajectory of Giggs' United career follows that of the club almost exactly", underlining his importance to United.

Giggs' form in the years after the achievements of 1999 was reflective of Manchester United's dominance of the English game up until 2003 with Giggs still relishing his left wing slot. United won the League title four times in that period, and had always made it to UEFA Champions League Quarter-Finals at the very least. He celebrated his 10-year anniversary at Old Trafford with a testimonial match against Celtic at the start of the 2001-02 campaign. A year later, he bagged his 100th career goal in a draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

He managed to win the FA Cup once more in 2004, making him one of only two players (the other being Roy Keane) to have won the trophy four times, while playing for Manchester United. He has also finished with a runners-up medal three times.

His participation in the victory over Liverpool in September 2004 made him the third player to play 600 games for United, alongside Sir Bobby Charlton and Bill Foulkes. He was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in 2005 in recognition of his contribution to the English game. During the first half of the 2004-05 season, Giggs was linked in a transfer speculation with Newcastle United, a club his best-friend at United, Nicky Butt, had left for. However, no move was made before the transfer window closed on 31 January 2005.

After that season, Giggs signed a two-year contract extension with Manchester United when chairman David Gill relented on his normal policy of not signing players over 30 to contracts longer than one year. The extension, which runs through to July 2008, will most probably keep him at Old Trafford for the remainder of his playing career.

Giggs has reinvented himself and continues to contribute positively to the Manchester United cause even after team-mates like David Beckham and Roy Keane had left. Giggs has also benefited from being largely injury-free aside from some trouble with his hamstrings which, according to his autobiography, prevents him from running at full throttle to this day.

Ryan Giggs made his 700th appearance for Manchester United on 3 March 2007 in a Premier League match against Liverpool, which Manchester United won 1-0. He is now less than 60 games away from breaking Bobby Charlton's appearance record for the club, set in 1973 - the year Giggs was born.

On 6 May 2007, with Chelsea drawing 1-1 with London rivals Arsenal, Manchester United became the champions of England. In doing so Ryan Giggs set a record of nine league titles thus beating the previous record of eight he shared with Alan Hansen and Phil Neal.

Giggs played a starring role in Manchester United's 2007 Charity Shield victory after netting in the first half to bring the game to a 1-1 draw, which led to penalty triumph for the Red Devils after keeper Van Der Sar saved all of Chelsea's first 3 penalties.

International career

Giggs won 64 caps and scored 12 goals for the Welsh national team between 1991 and 2007. However his international career was frustrating as, like Alfredo Di Stéfano and George Best, he did not play in either a European Championship or a World Cup finals, because Wales failed to qualify. He was appointed captain of Wales in 2004.

Giggs received criticism for his reluctance to participate in friendly international matches. Since his début in 1991 against West Germany, Giggs failed to attend a friendly international until some nine years later, missing a massive 18 consecutive friendly games.[3]

In September 2006, Giggs put in a dazzling performance in a friendly against Brazil at White Hart Lane. Such was his display that, following the 2-0 win for Brazil, Brazil coach Dunga paid Giggs the ultimate compliment by stating he would not look out of place playing for the five-time world champions alongside stars such as Kaká and Ronaldinho. [4]

Giggs announced his retirement from international football on Wednesday 30 May 2007 at a press conference held at The Vale of Glamorgan Hotel. His final game for Wales, and as captain, was the Euro 2008 Qualifier against the Czech Republic on 2 June at Cardiff. He earned his 64th cap in this game and won the Man of the Match award as Wales drew 0-0. [5]

Personal life

Other than his notorious spate of womanising as alleged in tabloids such as the Daily Mirror over the years, Giggs has otherwise managed to avoid the limelight of celebrity trappings that tagged his earlier years. In his autobiography, Giggs: The Autobiography, he revealed possible reasons for his aversion to attention, and accounted for his quiet and bashful demeanour.

The biography described Giggs' difficult upbringing. He endured racial taunts as a child because he was the product of a mixed marriage. Although he admired his rugby-playing father's sporting gifts (Giggs' attributes his speed and balance to his father's genes), he hated the impact his "bullying aggressive nature" had on his family.

In an infamous interview with the Daily Telegraph, Giggs described his father as a "real rogue". He adopted his mother's surname after his parents' separation so that "the world would know I was my mother's son".

Giggs is considered by many as a player who, unlike Lee Sharpe and George Best, achieved considerable fame despite a relatively low profile overall as a celebrity. He has done ads for Reebok, Sovil Titus, Citizen Watches, Givenchy, Fuji, Patek Phillipe, Quorn Burgers and Celcom, and has been used for video-mapping in computer game simulations like EA Sports' FIFA 2003, for which he also did a commercial.

According to an article by BBC Sport: "In the early 1990s, Giggs was David Beckham before Beckham was even holding down a place in the United first team. If you put his face on the cover of a football magazine, it guaranteed you the biggest sales of the year. Why? Men would buy it to read about 'the new Best' and girls bought it because they wanted his face all over their bedroom walls. Giggs had the million-pound boot deal (Reebok), the lucrative sponsorship deals in the Far East (Fuji) and the celebrity girlfriends (Dani Behr, Davinia Taylor) at a time when Beckham was being sent on loan to Preston North End."[6]

Giggs is currently living with partner Stacey and their daughter Liberty and son Zach. His younger brother, Rhodri Giggs, also a winger, currently plays for Curzon Ashton in the Manchester Football league. He was released by F.C. United in August 2007, the non-league club set up by disaffected Manchester United fans after Malcolm Glazer's takeover of United. Ryan attended Moorside High School on the East Lancs road in Swinton.

Campaigner

In recent years, Giggs has also become a UNICEF representative, launching a campaign to prevent landmines from killing children in 2002.

Giggs, who had visited UNICEF projects in Thailand, told the BBC: "As a footballer I can't imagine life without the use of one of my legs...Sadly this is exactly what happens to thousands of children every year when they accidentally step on a landmine." Giggs is also an active campaigner in the fight against racism in football, alongside fellow mixed-raced players like Rio Ferdinand and Thierry Henry.

He told the Football Anti-Racism site 'Stop the BNP' the following in 2004: "A lot of people don't know that my father is black. He was a professional rugby player in the area that I played as a youngster. So a lot of people who I went to school with knew who he was and knew that he was black. So I would get racist taunts in school."[2]

He also added in the French sports newspaper, L'Equipe, "Looking at me from the outside, it is not very obvious, I know but half my family is black and I feel close to their culture and their colour. I am proud of my black roots and of the black blood that runs in my veins. I do not wish to hide my origins, nor do I seek to make it a subject of conversation. I am what I am."

Giggs is also a patron of the Manchester-based 'Five Star Scanner Appeal', a charity that aims to raise Ł1m to fund a new scanner at a new Manchester Children's Hospital due to be built ready for 2009.

Career statistics

Manchester United Career:

As of match played 21 August 2007

Competition Start End All Appearances (as sub) Goals Assists
Domestic Leagues 1991   507 (61) 98 228
European Competitions 1994   109 (6) 25 28
FA Cup 1991   53 (7) 10 26
League Cup 1991   25 (5) 7 8
Other competitive matches 1991   14 (1) 1  
Total 1991   720 (80) 141 290

Honours

Club

Manchester United (1990-present)
  • FA Premier League - Champion (9): 1992-93, 1993-94, 1995-96, 1996-97, 1998-99, 1999-00, 2000-01, 2002-03, 2006-07
  • FA Premier League - Runner Up: 1994-95, 1997-98, 2005-06
  • FA Youth Cup Winner: 1992
  • FA Cup Winner (4): 1994, 1996, 1999, 2004
  • FA Cup Runner Up: 1995, 2005, 2007
  • League Cup Winner (2): 1992, 2006
  • League Cup Runner Up: 1994, 2003
  • Community Shield Winner (6): 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 2003, 2007
  • Community Shield Runner Up: 1998, 2000, 2001, 2004
  • UEFA Champions League Winner: 1998-99
  • UEFA Super Cup Winner: 1991
  • UEFA Super Cup Runner Up: 1999
  • Intercontinental Cup: 1999

ndividual

  • Barclays Premiership Player of the Month: August, 2006, February 2007.
  • Intercontinental Cup Man of the Match: 1999
  • Manchester United Players Player of the Year Award: 2005/2006
  • U-21 European Footballer of the Year: (1993)
  • Wales Player of the Year Award: 1996, 2006
  • Inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame: 2005
  • Inducted into the Premiership Team of the Decade: 2003
  • Inducted into the FA Challenge Cup Team of the Century: 2006
  • Only Manchester United player to have played in all 9 Premiership title winning teams; also a record of English title holders overall
  • Only Manchester United player to have played in both League Cup winning teams
  • Only player to scored in 12 consecutive Champion League goals
  • Along with Gary Speed the only player have scored in every Premier League campaign since its inception
  • Member of PFA Team of the Year: 2007
  • OBE for services to football
PFA Young Player of the Year
1992 and 1993
Manchester United F.C. Vice-captain
2005-

References

  1. ^ Botham honoured with knighthood.
  2. ^ a b Ryan Giggs. Stop the BNP.. Original link no longer has the quote removed. Link is to the version stored in the Wayback machine.
  3. ^ [1]

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