Is Ryan Giggs the Greatest Footballer Ever to Play in the Premier League ?
The Early Days
As a follow up to my hub The Greatest Goal Ever Scored I have decided to write about Ryan Giggs. He was born in Canton, Cardiff on 29 November 1973 and moved to Swinton, Salford at the age of six when his father Danny Wilson became a professional Rugby League player.
Ryan Joseph Wilson has he was known then started playing for a local side called Deans FC where he was spotted by a scout from Manchester City and he was persuaded to sign for the Manchester City School of Excellence. He continued to play for Deans when Harold Wood (a steward from Old Trafford) spoke personally to Alex Ferguson about Giggs. A trial was arranged between Salford boys and United's under 15's while Ferguson watched from his office. Giggs scored a hat trick and Alex Ferguson said that he felt like he had just struck gold.
Ferguson had to wait almost another year but on 29 November 1987. Ferguson along with a scout called round to the Wilson household on Giggs's fourteenth birthday and offered him a two-year deal on associate schoolboy forms with the opportunity to turn professional in three years. Giggs signed up there and then for a record £350,000. Right under the noses of Manchester City.
The Early Manchester United Years
On his seventeenth birthday, Giggs turned professional. He had changed his name when his mother got remarried. He came on as a substitute against Everton as his first ever appearance in the league at Old Trafford 2nd March 1991.He made his first full start against Manchester City and scored the only goal in a 1-0 win.
Giggs has often been criticised for choosing to play for Wales over England but the truth is that Giggs had captained the England team at schoolboy level. This is because as a schoolboy you can play for the country you reside in but once you turn professional, you could only play for your country of birth. As Ryan Giggs was born in Wales, his parents are Welsh and his Grandparents are Welsh, he had to play for Wales. I think the rules are a little more relaxed now but at the time, they were pretty much set in stone.
Although he had broke into the first team, he was still captain of the youth team that contained the lads who became known as Fergie's Fledglings. The two Neville brothers Gary and Phil, David Beckham, Nicky Butt and Paul Scholes. And he captained the team that won the FA Youth Cup in 1992. He won his first medal at senior level in this season by winning the League Cup and he was also voted the PFA Young Player of the Year.
The season 1992-93 was the first season of the Premier League and he was now playing regularly in the first team. The media had picked up him by now and he was being flaunted as a pin-up, often appearing on the front covers of girls magazines, much to the annoyance of Alex Ferguson. On the field, he played a major part in Manchester United winning their first title in 26 years.
He was a great influence In the 93-94 season at the age of just 20, when United won the double. The FA Cup (England's most prestigious Cup) and the league title.
I don't think that it is any coincidence that the 1994-95 season ended with United not winning anything. Giggs only played 29 league games because of injury and United certainly missed him. He only managed to score one league goal but as it turns out a very important one for him. Cantona was banned for the final four months of the season and Roy Keane had a long time out due to injury.
In the season 1995-96 Fergie's Fledglings had broke into the team. They lost away to Aston Villa 3-1 in their first game of the new season, which prompted the Match of the Day pundit Alan Hanson to say that united will win nothing with kids. The kids went on to do the double again.
It was the 1998-99 season when Giggs scored what I consider to be the greatest goal ever against Arsenal in the FA Cup Semi-final replay. You can see that in my other hub The greatest goal ever. This was the season when United won what had been called the impossible treble. The English league title, the FA Cup and the UEFA Champions League.
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The Later Years
Giggs became United's longest serving player by the start of the 2003-04 season. They had won another three titles by then and he had scored over 100 goals in all competitions. United went on to win another league title in 2007 and in doing so Giggs became the only player to hold nine league title medals. As of the time of writing the medal table stand at:
· Manchester United 18
· Liverpool 18
· Arsenal 13
· Ryan Giggs 11
· Everton 9
In 2007 he was awarded an OBE for services to football. In May 2008 he made his 100th appearance in the UEFA Champions League and later that month went on to break Bobby Charlton's record for the most appearances.
Sir Alex Ferguson has started to use Giggs a little more sparingly nowadays and plays more in the centre. It meant that Giggs can still influence a game and in 2009 was voted the PFA Player of the Year. He has also maintained his record of being the only player to score a goal in every season of the Premier League. The British public voted for him to become 2009 BBC Sports Personality of the Year.
His hard working, down to earth attitude has enabled Ryan Giggs to maintain his career for so long. He is still performing at the highest level to this day and he is an example to every young footballer.
As Ryan keeps on playing and breaking more records, I have added a news capsule below to keep up to date with him.
Just a little update to say that on the 10th February 2013 Ryan Giggs scored against Everton and as now scored a goal in the Premier League for the last 23 seasons.