As the most decorated player in English football history, Ryan Giggs was an obvious choice for Icons Legend of the Week #5.
In a glittering career that has spanned two decades at the very top; the Manchester United winger-turned-playmaker has won just about every trophy going in club football. I mean talk about staying power, back when Giggs won his first trophy it was known as the Rumbelows Cup.
He turns 38 in November, and he is now entering his 21st season with Manchester United. Since that League Cup win in 1992, the Welsh Wizard has added 12 Premier League titles, four FA Cups, and two Champions League medals to his bourgeoning CV. Throw in eight Community Shields, three more League Cups and a FIFA Club World Cup and you still haven't covered it.
I could type out a list of all his individual accolades, but I've a train to catch in three hours. He certainly didn't waste any time though, and having made his league debut as a 17-year-old on 2 March 1991 against Everton, he became the first player to win consecutive PFA Young Player of the year awards in 1992 and 1993. Fast forward to 2005 and he was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame. PFA Team of the Year six times, Team of the Decade, Team of the Century. He's even got an OBE.
With his first Young Player of the Year award, Giggs established himself as one of the most prodigious young talents in the country. Coupling maturity and intelligence with terrifying pace and outstanding dribbling ability, it was no coincidence that Giggs' emergence coincided with a new era of Manchester United dominance.
Along with the likes of Eric Cantona, Mark Hughes and Paul Ince, Giggs was integral to Sir Alex Ferguson's 1993/94 league and cup double winning side. He's been a mainstay ever since. Sensational goals have littered his long career, and the stunning mazy dribble, slammed finish and chest-bearing celebration in extra-time of the 1999 FA Cup semi-final replay against Arsenal remains one of the most memorable goals of recent times.
On 21 May 2008, the night of United's Champions League final triumph over Chelsea in Moscow, Giggs surpassed Sir Bobby Charlton's record of 758 appearances for the Red Devils. He also holds the record for the most Premier League appearances, with 573 so far. With an overall total of 876 club appearances, he will be hoping to reach the 900 mark this season. He has scored 159 goals for United, and was their first player to reach the 100 mark in the Premier League. He has netted in 15 Champions League tournaments too, and became the competition's oldest ever scorer with his strike against Schalke 04 last April at 37 years and 148 days.
Giggs captained England Schoolboys as a youngster, but he is a fiercely proud Welshman, and before retiring from international football on 30 May 2007 he represented his country 64 times, scoring 12 goals. When he made his international bow in 1991, he became Wales' youngest debutant, a record he held for seven years.
Giggs signed a one-year contract extension with Manchester United in February of this year, and he remains a crucial figure in Sir Alex's squad. A true footballing legend who does his talking on the pitch, I don't think anyone would begrudge him another medal or two.
We conducted our first signing with Ryan Giggs back in 1999. We've been working together ever since.
"I've worked with the lads at Icons for ten years, and they've always been professional, reliable and 100% genuine." – Ryan Giggs.