Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs is to leave after almost 30 years of service, the English Premier League club announced on Saturday in a widely expected move following Jose Mourinho’s appointment as manager.
The 42-year-old Welshman – an integral part of the great side built by Alex Ferguson and who made a record 963 appearances – is keen to pursue a managerial career, having been assistant manager during the unsuccessful spells of David Moyes and then Louis van Gaal.
“It has not been a decision that I have made lightly. I’ll take away so many special memories as well as a lifetime of experiences that will, I hope, serve me well in the future,” said Giggs in a statement issued by the club.
“However, the time feels right and although I have no immediate plans to step into management, it is where I want to be.”
Giggs, who won 13 league titles and two Champions League trophies amongst other honours, said that it was an enormous wrench for him.
“After 29 seasons at Manchester United as a player and assistant manager, I know winning is in the DNA of this Club – giving youth a chance, and playing attacking and exciting football.
“It’s healthy to have high expectations, it’s right to expect to win. Manchester United expects, deserves, nothing less.
“This is why it is a huge decision for me to step away from the club that has been my life since the age of 14.”
Mourinho, who had already been lined up to replace van Gaal after the Dutchman failed to qualify United for next season’s Champions League, is keen to have his own backroom staff along with him which means Rui Faria replacing Giggs.
Giggs, who Mourinho reportedly suspected of disloyalty and spinning against Moyes and then van Gaal when their fortunes slumped, was offered a different role but declined it.
But there was no rancour in Giggs’ statement, released by United, towards the Portuguese manager.
“I want to congratulate Jose Mourinho on his appointment as manager of the world’s biggest club,” said Giggs.
“There are only a handful of proven winners at the very highest level and Jose is unquestionably one of them. I know the fans will welcome him.”
Ed Woodward, executive vice-chairperson, paid a handsome tribute to United’s faithful servant.
“Ryan’s place in the history of Manchester United is assured,” said Woodward.
“He has been a constant presence at the club since 1987 and during his playing days, regularly delighted crowds; first with his dazzling wing play and later with his intelligence and ability to dictate a game.
“He has all the attributes to be a terrific manager in the future.”