By GRAEME YORKE
Ryan Giggs has retired as a player after 23 years at Manchester United
Giggs played 963 times for Man United winning 34 trophies
Giggs has been appointed as Louis van Gaal’s No 2 at the Old Trafford club
The Welshman held secret talks with Van Gaal in Holland last week
Giggs took charge of the club’s final four games of last term
Van Gaal has been confirmed as the Old Trafford club’s first foreign boss
Ryan Giggs has retired as a player at Manchester United bringing down the curtain on a glittering career which has spanned almost a quarter of a century.
Giggs’ announcement comes after he was appointed as Louis van Gaal’s No 2 at Old Trafford on Monday.
The United favourite, who made 963 appearances for the club, and played 64 times for Wales, revealed his decision to hang up his boots in an open letter to the club’s fans.
‘I would like to take this opportunity to announce my retirement from professional football and embark upon a new and exciting chapter in my life, as assistant manager of Manchester United,’ Giggs, 40, said.
‘I am immensely proud, honoured and fortunate to have represented the biggest club in the world 963 times and Wales 64 times.’
Giggs’ honours included 13 Premier League titles and two Champions League successes.
He has served as a player-coach over the past year and took over as interim manager for the final four games of last season after the sacking of David Moyes.
United were thought to be keen to retain his services in a coaching capacity and his future is believed to have been a key part of negotiations with Van Gaal.
Giggs added: ‘My dream was always to play for Manchester United, and although it saddens me to know I won’t be pulling on a United jersey again as a player, I have been lucky enough to have fulfilled that dream playing with some of the best players in the world, working under an incredible manager in Sir Alex Ferguson, and most of all, playing for the greatest fans in world football. I have always felt and appreciated your support.’
‘I want to also give a huge thanks to the backroom staff and support teams we have and have had at Manchester United over the years. I would not have achieved the success I have without your continuing dedication and commitment to creating the best environment to enable the players to thrive. I would not have won 34 trophies in my career without you. I would also like to say a special thanks to my friends and family for all your love and support.
‘For me, today is a new chapter filled with many emotions – immense pride, sadness, but most of all, excitement towards the future. United fans I hope will share and echo my belief that the club, the management and owners, are doing everything they can to return this great club to where it belongs, and I hope to be there every step of the way.
‘To the greatest fans in world football, thank you, I have loved every minute of playing for you and representing the biggest and best club in the world. See you next season.’
Van Gaal was confirmed as the permanent successor to Moyes on Monday, with Giggs lining up as his No 2.
Giggs, who met with Van Gaal in Holland last week, took temporary charge of United following Moyes’ dismissal in April.
United beat Norwich 4-0 in his first match as manager before losing to Sunderland, recording a home win over Hull, and then drawing at Southampton on the final day of the season.
‘I am thrilled to have the chance to serve as assistant manager,’ Giggs said after his appointment was confirmed alongside Van Gaal’s announcement on Monday.
‘Louis van Gaal is a world-class coach and I know I will learn a lot about coaching from being able to observe and contribute at such close quarters.
‘Manchester United has been a huge part of my life and I’m delighted to be able to continue that relationship in such a key role.’
Giggs, who came through United’s youth ranks and was a member of their famous ‘Class of ’92’ group of FA Youth Cup winners, was one of the finest players of his era.
United’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward said: ‘Ryan Giggs has been one of the greatest players ever to wear the red shirt of Manchester United. ‘What he has achieved will never be equalled in the English game.
‘In the way he played, he was the embodiment of a Manchester United player – fast, skilful, entertaining and determined to win by playing exciting football.
‘His progress from the ranks of the famous ‘Class of ’92’ to the most decorated player in this or any club’s history is down to his hard work, ability and attitude.
‘He is at the start of an exciting new chapter in his and the club’s life but now is the right moment to reflect on the achievements of the finest British player of the last 25 years.’
Club owners Joel and Avie Glazer are convinced Van Gaal is right man to take them forward.
Joel Glazer said: ‘I am delighted that Louis will be our next manager.
‘He has an outstanding pedigree as a coach, both as a man who motivates his teams to win trophies and as someone who believes in giving young players a chance to prove their worth.
‘I am sure he will make a big impression on the club, the players and the fans.’
Avie Glazer said: ‘Louis joins us at an exciting time and has already communicated some great ideas for how the club can move forward.
‘The board is right behind him in his plans and everyone here is already looking forward to the start of next season.’