‘He’s an incredible human being. It’s as simple as that’ – the words used by Sir Alex Ferguson to describe a player who might just get a statue or an Old Trafford stand named in his honour in similar fashion to the wily old Scot. Many within the game have even tipped him to replace the man who has managed him throughout his professional career.
As Ryan Giggs is on the verge of bringing up his millennium of senior matches, we pay tribute to a man who will go down as one of the greatest to ever grace the pitch. The 39-year-old is a one-off and it is unlikely that his combination of footballing excellence and longevity will ever be replicated.
It would be too hard to write one column on why Giggs is my favourite footballer ever, but sometimes words simply are not necessary. Here is a list of stats and figures outlining just why Manchester United, and the football world in general, will be poorer when the flying Welshman decides to call it a day.
· 1 – UEFA Super Cup
· 1 – Intercontinental Cup
· 1 – FIFA World Club Cup
· 2 – Champions Leagues
· 4 – FA Cups
· 4 – League Cups
· 8 – Community Shields
· 12 – Premier League titles
· 1 – OBE for services to football
· 1 – PFA Player of the Year
· 1 – BBC Sports Personality of the Year
· 1 – Goal of the Season
· 1 – Golden Foot
· 2 – Wales Player of the Year
· 2 – BBC Wales Sports Personality of the Year
· 2 – PFA Young Player of the Year
· 3 – Premier League Player of the Month Awards
· 6 – times selected in PFA Team of the Year
· Selected in: PFA Team of the Century, Premier League Team of the Decade, UEFA Champions League Dreamteam
· 12 – top division English titles
· 16 – Champions League tournaments in which he has scored
· 23 – Successive league campaigns in which he has scored
· 37y, 289d – Oldest player to ever score in the Champions League
· 64 – Caps for Wales
· 100 – First Manchester United player to score 100 Premier League goals
· 145 – Number of Teammates for Manchester United
· 168 – Goals for Manchester United
· 611 – Premier League appearances
· 782 – Starts for Manchester United
· 931 – Overall appearances for Manchester United
· Giggs has notched up 10 league goals against Spurs, more than any other club
· He has faced Arsenal 48 times in his career
· The Welshman averages 0.18 goals per game in which he plays
· Of the 15 players with the most all-time PL appearances, the only one not to have received a red card is Ryan Giggs.
· His first goal for Manchester United was against fierce rivals Manchester City
· When Ryan Giggs made his debut, Danny Welbeck was only 3 months old and Phil Jones had not yet been born.
· He is joint 7th in the club’s all-time leading goal scorer list.
· Giggs has only been on the losing side on 10 occasions in which he has scored a goal.
· Only Paolo Maldini, Clarence Seedorf, Raúl and Javier Zanetti have played in more European fixtures
· Of his 4 penalties taken during a match, he has converted all 4. He also netted the winning penalty in the 2008 Champions League final shootout.
· Of the 39 clubs Ryan Giggs faced at least 5 times, Leicester City and Crystal Palace are the only ones he didn’t score against.
The A-Z of Giggs’ 145 Manchester United Teammates
A -Anderson, Ben Amos
B – Phil Bardsley, Fabien Barthez, Russell Beardsmore, Bébé, David Beckham, David Bellion, Dimitar Berbatov, Henning Berg, Clayton Blackmore, Laurent Blanc, Jesper Blomqvist, Mark Bosnich, Wes Brown, Steve Bruce, Nicky Butt, Alexander Büttner
C – Fraizer Campbell, Eric Cantona, Michael Carrick, Chris Casper, Roy Carroll, Luke Chadwick, Michael Clegg, Tom Cleverley, Andy Cole, Larnell Cole, Terry Cooke, Jordi Cruyff, Nick Culkin, John Curtis
D – Simon Davies, Fabio da Silva, Rafael da Silva, David De Gea, Ritchie De Laet, Mame Biram Diouf, Eric Djemba-Djemba, Bojan Djordjic, Mal Donaghy, Dion Dublin
E – Chris Eagles, Richard Eckersley, Jonny Evans, Patrice Evra
F – Rio Ferdinand, Darren Ferguson, Darren Fletcher, Diego Forlán, Quinton Fortune, Ben Foster, Ezekiel Fryers
G – Darron Gibson, Keith Gillespie, Andy Goram, Jonathan Greening
H – Owen Hargreaves, David Healy, Gabriel Heinze, Javier Hernández, Danny Higginbotham, Tim Howard, Mark Hughes
I -Paul Ince, Denis Irwin
J – Ronny Johnsen, Phil Jones
K – Shinji Kagawa, Andrei Kanchelskis, Roy Keane, Kleberson, Tomasz Kuszczak
L – Henrik Larsson, Anders Lindegaard
M – Pat McGibbon, Federico Macheda, Lee Martin (90s), Lee Martin (00s), Manucho, David May, Brian McClair, Liam Miller, Philip Mulryne
N – Nani, Gary Neville, Phil Neville, Erik Nevland
O – Gabriel Obertan, John O’Kane, John O’Shea, Michael Owen
P – Gary Pallister, Park Ji-sung, Paul Parker, Mike Phelan, Kevin Pilkington, Gerard Piqué, Karel Poborsky, Paul Pogba, Rodrigo Possebon, Nick Powell, William Prunier, Danny Pugh
R – Felipe Ricardo, Kieran Richardson, Mark Robins, Bryan Robson, Lee Roche, Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, Giuseppe Rossi
S – Louis Saha, Peter Schmeichel, Lee Sharpe, Teddy Sheringham, Paul Scholes, Les Sealey, Alan Smith, Mikaël Silvestre, Danny Simpson, Chris Smalling, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Jonathan Spector, Jaap Stam, Michael Stewart
T – Massimo Taibi, Carlos Tevez, Zoran Tosic
V – Antonio Valencia, Raimond van der Gouw, Nemanja Vidic, Edwin van der Sar, Ruud van Nilstelrooy, Robin van Persie, Juan Sebastián Verón
W – Danny Wallace, Ronnie Wallwork, Gary Walsh, Neil Webb, Danny Welbeck, Ian Wilkinson, Mark Wilson
Y – Dwight Yorke, Ashley Young