On November 29, 1987, a young gentleman by the name of Ryan Wilson was celebrating his 14th birthday.
On that day, Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson turned up at Ryan’s house with scout Joe Brown and offered him a two-year deal at the club.
Ryan Wilson would later go on to change his name to Ryan Giggs, who yesterday, at the age of 39, signed a one-year deal keeping him at the club until 2014—27 years after he started at United as a schoolboy.
So in those incredible 27 years, just what has changed?
Since Giggs signed for Manchester United, the club has gone from just any old football team in the North of England to a global brand.
The club has won 37 trophies since 1987, and it has had six official club captains, but it has had only one manager.
They finished outside the top two in England’s top flight only six times, its lowest position being 13th in the 1989/90 season.
They have won the Champions League more times than any English club in that time period: twice.
And a certain Welshman will have played 932 games for the club from today.
And it lost a match to Southampton in 1996, apparently because the players could not see each other on the pitch.
Maybe not as dramatically as Manchester United, but since Giggs started there have been changes in the Wales team too.
When Giggs debuted for Wales in 1991, at the age of 17, he broke their record for the youngest player ever to play for the national team, and that record stood for a further seven years.
In Giggs’ football career the Welsh national team has played its home games at the stadiums of Cardiff City, Swansea City, Wrexham, The Welsh Rugby team (Cardiff Arms Park) and their current permanent home, The Millennium Stadium.
They achieved their highest FIFA ranking ever of 27th in August 1993.
Since Giggs started at United, the Welsh National side has had 10 national team managers, the ninth of which, Gary Speed, ended in tragedy.
After Giggs’ international retirement in 2007, Wales also achieved its lowest ranking ever of 117th in 2011.
However, at no point in Giggs’ career has Wales qualified for a major tournament.
Ryan Giggs has arguably been Wales' best-ever footballer, with the exception of John Charles. However, there is currently a challenger for that title in the mix, by the name of Gareth Bale.
It’s also worth noting Giggs signed his new contract on March 1—the day of the national saint of Wales, Saint David.
When Giggs first joined Manchester United, the following of their current first-team squad (not even including on-loan or reserve and youth players) weren’t even born yet:
David De Gea
And Sam Johnstone.
When Giggs signed for United on his 14th birthday, current star striker Wayne Rooney was only two years old.
Giggs has been at Old Trafford for such a long time that, during that period, that two-year-old has since grown up, become a world football superstar and even suffered from premature balding.
Giggs has been at United so long, not only has Rooney gone bald—his hair has since returned in that time period.
In 2011 Rooney spent £30,000 on hair transplants in an attempt to reverse his balding.
Since Giggs started at United the game itself has changed quite a bit.
We’ve seen the golden goal introduced as an alternative to extra time.
We’ve seen the golden goal abolished and replaced by the silver goal.
We’ve seen the silver goal abolished and replaced by extra time.
There’s been the introduction of the Bosman ruling in 1995.
The English game has seen the publication of the Taylor Report into the Hillsborough disaster, making football stadiums safer.
The role of the fourth official was made official in 1991, and he was given an electronic substitution board.
We’ve had five different winners of the World Cup.
We’ve had six different winners of the European Championship…including Greece!
And we’ve had seven different champions of England…including Blackburn Rovers!
The world football transfer record has gone from £6 million to £80 million.
But we still don’t have goal-line technology.
When Giggs started, United’s home ground could hold approximately 56,000 people
It can now hold approximately 76,000.
But it did dip to 44,000 in 1992 following the Taylor Report.
Floodlights were attached to the inner rim of the Old Trafford roof in the year Giggs started, 1987.
The famous Stretford End has gone from all-standing to all-seating.
The North Stand has been demolished, rebuilt and renamed the "Sir Alex Ferguson Stand."
Since Giggs started at United, local rivals Manchester City have ended their 44-year drought to win the league title.
City beat United to the 2011/12 Premier League by goal difference and ended their 35 years without a major trophy by lifting the FA Cup in 2011.
During Giggs’ career Man City have been relegated three times, once to English football’s third tier.
They have been promoted four times.
They have been taken over by the Abu Dhabi royal family.
And are now competing with United to be the best team in Britain.
Since Giggs started at United, local rivals Liverpool have gone 23 years without winning the league.
When Giggs began his footballing career, it was during the latter years of Liverpool’s golden era when they were the dominant force in English and European football.
They won the league in 1987/88 and 1989/90 but have not won it since.
They finished runners up in 2001/02 and 2008/09.
But last season they finished eighth.
They also thought Andy Carroll was worth £35 million.
Since Ryan Giggs joined Manchester United as a schoolboy, the face of the Earth has changed.
Yugoslavia doesn’t exist anymore.
The Soviet Union doesn’t exist anymore.
The Cold War has ended.
Nelson Mandela has been released.
The War On Terror was launched.
We’ve seen the rise of the Internet.
We’ve seen the death of Saved By The Bell.
We saw Bill Clinton deny having relations with Monica Lewinsky.
We saw Bill Clinton admit having relations with Monica Lewinsky.
And, in 1999, we all discovered just how hairy Ryan Giggs’s chest is.