Ryan Giggs receives PFA Merit 2016 award

Ryan Giggs has been awarded the PFA Merit Award at the 2016 PFA Awards at the Grosvenor House in London on Sunday.

It is a quarter of a century since a 17-year-old Ryan Giggs, with a bouncing mop of boy-band hair, set about beguiling football, running thrillingly down the left wing for Manchester United and Wales.

Inevitably, they called him ‘the new George Best’, but not even British football’s greatest player could come close to matching the statistics stacked up by one-club man Giggs – a staggering 963 matches for United along with 168 goals, plus 64 games and 12 goals for Wales, since making his League debut against Everton at Old Trafford on March 2, 1991, as a substitute.

Giggs’ roll call of glory may never be surpassed: winners’ medals in 13 Premier Leagues, four FA Cups, three League Cups, two Champions Leagues, a World Club Cup, an Intercontinental Cup, a UEFA Super Cup and nine FA Community Shields.

Not only did Giggs bring panache and mazy dribbling back to English football, he also proved that with good diet and intelligent training footballers need not fear their 30th birthday as he spanned the generations from Eric Cantona to David de Gea, until his retirement from playing in 2014 at the age of 40. The memories are rich. 

Best of all was his solo goal against Arsenal in extra time in the 1999 FA Cup semi-final replay, when he dribbled past half the Arsenal team before smashing the ball high into the net past goalkeeper David Seaman. The celebration, shirt off and twirling around his head, is as famous as the goal. Giggs won consecutive PFA Young Player of the Year awards in 1993 and 1994, and the main PFA Player of the Year award in 2009.

He made his debut for Wales away to Germany in October 1991 at the age of 17 and 321 days, the youngest player at the time to play for Wales, although he was denied the top international stage, as Wales failed to qualify for a major tournament during his career.

His final game for Wales was the Euro 2008 qualifier against the Czech Republic in 2007 at Cardiff.Giggs took over as interim manager at Manchester United for four games after David Moyes was sacked in April 2014, winning two, drawing one and losing one. He is currently Louis van Gaal’s assistant at Old Trafford.

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