The career of Ryan Giggs began back in 1987 when on the day of his 14th birthday he was signed
as a schoolboy for the club he had supported throughout his childhood, Manchester United.
United weren't allowed to sign young players until they had turned 14 years of age and with
Manchester City hovering over the young prodigy United manager Alex Ferguson moved quickly to
bring Giggs to Old Trafford, a fateful move which led to the emergence of one of the finest
talents to ever wear the red of United.
During his two years as a schoolboy Giggs played for the England schoolboys and captained them
in nine matches. This despite the fact that Giggs later went on to play for Wales at full
international level. Also at the time Ryan Giggs was in fact Ryan Wilson, but after his
parents separated he decided to adopt his mother's second name of Giggs so that "the world would know I was my mother's son."
After a two year apprenticeship Giggs was ready to sign as a trainee at the age of 16. But
within five months it was clear United had uncovered a rare gem and Giggs signed professional
on 29th November 1990.
Since then his rise to fame has been nothing short of phenomenal. Towards the end of his
second year of apprenticeship in 1991 he was playing mostly in the Reserves and Youth team.
However without prior notice he was promoted to the first team and on 2nd March he made his
League debut for United when he came on as sub for Denis Irwin against Everton at Old
Trafford. It was only the beginning for Giggs as on 4th May he made his full debut in the
Manchester derby no less. And to ensure the name of
Ryan Giggs was on the tip of everyone's tongue that night he scored the only goal in a 1:0
win for United.
For a few brief days Giggs was the toast of the red half of Manchester but that was the last
Old Trafford saw of him that season. But the following campaign was to be Giggs'
breakthrough year as injuries to Lee Sharpe worked in his favour. The start of the season
saw Giggs start 15 consecutive matches and 38 in all. Giggs' first trophy also came in that
year when he lifted the Rumbelows Cup (League Cup) after a 1:0 Wembley win over Nottingham
Forest. Ultimately however the season was to end in disappointment as United squandered a
commanding lead in the league and lost out in the Championship race to rivals Leeds.
The hangover from that failure carried into the beginning of the 1992/93 season as United
lost their opening two games of the season. But United and Giggs soon rediscovered their
rhythm and another Championship challenge was soon in the making. With a full season already
under his belt Giggs was now a first choice regular in the team having made the number 11
shirt his own. However by now the George Best comparisons were also spreading like wildfire
and a memorable goal worthy of Best at White Hart Lane against Tottenham in September 1992
didn't do much to discourage them. But apart from wearing the same jersey and playing on
the left wing the comparisons end there. Best himself emphasising the talent of Giggs as
unique and within a couple of years the comparisons were well out of fashion.
United's elusive pursuit of the Championship after a barren 26 years was nearing its
torturous end in 1993, thanks in no small part to the arrival of Eric Cantona. But Giggs'
contribution was also immense, no more so than when in February he scored two late goals to
turn a 1:0 home defeat to Southampton into a crucial 2:1 triumph.
Having tasted success two years in a row Giggs was now hungering for more and in 1993/94 he
got it in the shape of Manchester United's first League and FA Cup double. It was to be
Giggs' most productive season goalscoring wise as the team reached a footballing pinnacle
not witnessed at Old Trafford since the great team of the 1960s. The pick of the bunch
from Giggs was unquestionably his strike at Queens Park Rangers in a 3:2 win. Latching
onto a loose ball he skipped past the challenge of Ray Wilkins, glided through the home
team's defence leaving 3 defenders stumbling in his wake before rounding off the sensational
run with a sublime finish. The goal epitomised the skill and finesse of Ryan Giggs. Perfect
balance, pace, control and a lethal left foot matched with an unflappable temperament. All
attributes that stand him apart from his contemporaries as a player destined for greatness.
However 1994/95 was a frustrating year for Giggs as for the first time in his career he had
to deal with a succession of injuries. An initial calf strain early in the season against
Ipswich was just the catalyst for problems with his ankle, Achilles tendon and hamstring,
all in the same leg. Giggs' problems coincided with difficulties for United on the pitch as
they were knocked out of Europe and eventually missed out on a second double, losing the
Championship to Blackburn by a single point and losing 1:0 to Everton in the FA Cup final.
In all Giggs made 39 appearances, an impressive tally considering his injury problems but
his form had dipped dramatically from the high standards he had set himself in his previous
Season five was a different story for Giggs as the team rebuilt following a number of high
profile departures. Alex Ferguson put his faith in home grown talents like Beckham, Butt,
Scholes and the Nevilles. Amazingly at only 22 Giggs was now considered an experienced
member of the squad and he rose to the challenge. Putting his injuries behind him he
re-established himself on the left wing and was an integral part of United's second Double
By now Giggs' reputation as one of the best players in the English league was recognised by
all. But as yet he had failed to transfer his best form onto the European stage. 1996/97
was to change all that. United started sluggishly that year in their defence of the
Championship and in the Champions' League. They lost three of their six games in the
opening stages of their European campaign, which included their first ever home defeat in
Europe against Fenerbahce. Two weeks later they were again floored at home, this time
losing 1:0 to Juventus. The scoreline may have favoured the Italians but throughout the
second half Giggs showed signs that he was finally beginning to mature as a player at
European level. His pace, skill and dribbling had the Italian's in knots but it ultimately
reaped nothing tangible for United. However in their final game of the group, in Vienna,
Giggs set the ball rolling with a finely taken opening goal and by the end of the night
United had qualified to play FC Porto in the March quarter-finals.
March 4th 1997 was the night when Giggs unquestionably came of age at the highest level.
Few-fancied United to get past the rampant Portuguese champions but with Giggs playing
through the centre of midfield he tore them apart at Old Trafford, scoring the third in a
memorable 4:0 rout.
Sadly injury ruled Giggs out of the second leg and most of the return match of the semi-final
at Old Trafford. Undoubtedly United missed Giggs' presence against Borussia Dortmund as they
squandered numerous opportunities and missed out on the final by a whisker.
But spurred on by that disappointment Giggs was back the following season intent of proving
a point, reproducing more consistently than ever his most explosive form. The highlight of
his best ever season came in the unforgettable 3:2 win over Juventus in the Champions'
League. Having been frustrated by the Italians twice in the previous season United exacted
sweet revenge, inspired by the blistering wing play of Ryan Giggs. He set up the equalising
goal for Teddy Sheringham and went on to score a spectacular last minute winner. Afterwards
Juventus coach Marcello Lippi underlined the stature Giggs had attained on the European
stage by simply saying "Giggs is a truly superb player."
Giggs was instrumental in United's rampage through their Champions' League group as well as
their assault on the Premiership. However in February things turned sour for Giggs and
United. Leading Derby County 2:0 at Old Trafford, with Giggs scoring the opening goal, the
winger pulled up with a hamstring injury which was to rule him out of first team action for
nearly two months. The result couldn't have proven so dramatically how dependant United had
become on Giggs. United's form dipped drastically leading to elimination from the European
Cup and Arsenal clawing back United's once 12 point lead at the top of the table. His return
didn't come in time to save United's season but 1997/98 proved that when free from injury
Giggs is unquestionably the "real deal" at the highest level.
The fateful 1998-99 season began in sparkling fashion for Giggs as he stayed free from injury
and helped United get off to a flying start in the Champions' league. Four goals in
four European games against Lodz, Barcelona and Brondby again confirmed Giggs's status as
United's most potent weapon on the European stage.
A fractured foot suffered in a sliding tackle against Liverpool at Old Trafford ruled him
out of action for several weeks and another hamstring strain, amazingly against Derby County
again at Old Trafford looked like ruining another promising season.
The injury wasn't as serious as first expected and Giggs returned and enjoyed his finest hour.
In the replay of the FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal at Highbury, United were down to 10
men in extra time and facing elimination and the end of the Treble dream. Giggs however produced
one of the great goals to defy the odds and win Manchester United the most dramatic of matches, 2:1.
Collecting a loose pass from Vieira inside his own half Giggs raced through the heart of the Arsenal
team, weaved through the tightest defence in Europe, beating four players, before blasting
an unstoppable shot past David Seaman from an acute angle. It was fantasy football at its best.
George Best himself couldn't have done it any better.
Sadly Giggs' glory was dampened by an ankle injury suffered shortly afterwards but he returned
in time to help United win the Premiership, FA Cup and European Cup. But the night of
April 14th 1999 will the night Giggs will be remembered for in football folklore for a very
long time. The night he scored that goal!