Ryan Giggs' Top 20 Champions League Moments
It seems Ryan Giggs has played his final match in European football’s most prestigious club competition.
Manchester United’s 3-1 defeat away to Bayern Munich on Wednesday ended what faint hope the Red Devils had of winning this year’s Champions League, and with fourth place in the Premier League a pipe dream with just five matches to play, it looks as though the club’s 18-year run in the tournament has come to an end.
That means Giggs’ Champions League story is likely finished, and if so the 40-year-old leaves the competition a two-time champion, having played more matches in it than anyone else (including qualifying matches).
This, then, is a good time to look back on the Welshman’s legacy in Europe, and over the following slideshow we’ll rank his top 20 Champions League moments.
20. Champions League Debut
Manchester United played their first match of the Champions League era on September 15, 1993.
Not yet 20, Giggs made his debut in the competition that night away to Kispest Honved—a match United won 3-2 thanks to a brace from Roy Keane and an Eric Cantona goal late in the first half.
United’s dreams of winning a second European cup were dashed in the next round, however, as they went out on away goals to Galatasaray.
19. Final Champions League Match
Giggs made his 151st and final Champions League appearance on April 1, 2014 at home to Bayern Munich.
United bravely held off the holders to earn a 1-1 draw, but Giggs was substituted at the break with an apparent injury and made way for the introduction of Shinji Kagawa.
18. Goal vs. Sturm Graz
Manchester United got off to a quick start in the second group stage of the 2000-01 Champions League, and two weeks after beating Panathinaikos 3-1 at Old Trafford, the Red Devils defeated Sturm Graz 2-0 in Austria.
Paul Scholes got things started in the 18th minute, but United were unable to extend their lead until the 89th, when Giggs accepted a reverse pass before slotting the ball underneath the goalkeeper from a tight angle.
17. Goal vs. Bordeaux
Having won and lost their first two matches of the 1999-2000 second group stage, United needed a result at home to Bordeaux in early March and got it thanks to Giggs.
Late in the first half, the winger ghosted into the goalmouth to meet David Beckham’s cross and then calmly directed it into the back of the net.
Teddy Sheringham would add another in the second half as United cruised to a 2-0 victory.
16. Goal vs. Deportivo La Coruna
Manchester United progressed all the way to the Champions League semi-finals in 2002, but to get there they head to overcome quarter-final opponent Deportivo La Coruna.
The Red Devils ended up beating the Spanish outfit 5-2 on aggregate, and Giggs rounded out the scoring with the winner in the second leg at Old Trafford.
15. Goal vs. Lille
In February 2007, Manchester United faced a feisty Lille side in the first leg of their round-of-16 encounter.
The match is best known for the crowd trouble that ensued (see above video), but in the 83rd minute Giggs’ quickly taken free kick delivered a 1-0 win to the guests, who would then finish the job at Old Trafford.
14. Brace vs. Brondby
Giggs was a major player in Manchester United’s run to the 1999 European Cup from the very start, when he scored the club’s first goal of the campaign in an early-August qualification match at home to LKS Lodz.
He had also found the back of the net against Barcelona by the time United came up against Brondby, where twice in 21 minutes he tallied for the Red Devils, who ended up winning 6-2.
13. Goal vs. Schalke
One of Giggs’ final Champions League goals came against Schalke in the 2011 semi-finals.
United were heavily favoured to see off the German side, but it took until the 67th minute for them to find an opening in Gelsenkirchen.
Wayne Rooney did the legwork on the goal, weaving between several defenders before sliding the ball to Giggs for a cultured finish from the goalkeeper’s right.
12. Final Champions League Goal
United crashed out at the Champions League group stage in 2011-12, but early that season Giggs scored what would prove to be his final goal in the competition.
Trailing 1-0 to Benfica on September 14, United were back on level terms shortly before the restart thanks to Giggs, who had galloped through the Benfica midfield before unleashing a thunderous drive to the top, right-hand corner of the net.
11. 2009 Champions League Final
Giggs featured in four Champions League finals for Manchester United—his third coming in 2009 against Barcelona.
Starting as part of a midfield trio alongside Anderson and Michael Carrick, Giggs played 75 minutes before being replaced by Paul Scholes.
It proved to be Barcelona’s night, however, as the Catalans dominated from start to finish and prevailed 2-0 thanks to goals from Samuel Eto’o and Lionel Messi.
10. 2011 Champions League Final
Giggs featured in his fourth Champions League final on May 28, 2011 at Wembley.
Once again the opponent was Barcelona, and once again the Catalans prevailed, beating the Red Devils 3-1.
Giggs played the full 90 minutes in central midfield alongside Michael Carrick.
9. 2011 Champions League Quarter-Finals
Manchester United were tied to Chelsea at the quarter-final stage of the 2010-11 UEFA Champions League, and while he didn’t find the back of the net Giggs, had a hand in the three goals that propelled the Red Devils into a third final in four seasons.
8. Brace in Turin
One of Giggs' most notable Champions League performances came on February 25, 2003 when he scored two first-half goals against Juventus at the Stadio delle Alpi.
In the 15th minute, he sprinted into the attacking third, ran past two Juventus defenders and then finished calmly past the goalkeeper.
The, with just four minutes remaining in the first half, he tallied for the second time and put United on course for a memorable 3-0 win.
7. Goal vs. Barcelona
Giggs’ second goal of that historic 1998-99 Champions League run came at home to Barcelona, where his 17th-minute marker proved the winner in a 3-0 win for United.
Paul Scholes also found the back of the net that night, and in the 64th minute David Beckham rounded out the scoring with a spectacular free kick.
6. Exceeds Raul in Career Champions League Appearances
When Giggs came off the bench against Shakhtar Donetsk back in October, he made his landmark 145th appearance in the Champions League, including qualification matches.
The cameo took him above Raul on the competition’s all-time list, and when he lined up to face Bayern on April 1 he was establishing a new mark of 151 times out in Europe’s premiere club competition.
5. First Champions League Goal
Giggs got off the mark in the Champions League in September 1994 when he equalised against Gothenburg at Old Trafford.
The then-21-year-old was well-positioned for a sumptuous rebound when it came off the goalkeeper, and he made no mistake finishing from in close.
He’d add another in the second half as United proceeded to win 4-2.
4. Goal vs. Juventus
The second leg of Manchester United’s 1999 Champions League semi-final is more fondly remembered than the first, as the Red Devils had to earn a result at the Stadio delle Alpi in order to progress to the final.
But they would have lost the first leg at Old Trafford had it not been for Giggs, who found the back of the net in second-half stoppage time.
3. Another Goal vs. Juventus
One of Giggs’ most famous Champions League goals came on October 1, 1997—again against Juventus.
With the score level at two goals apiece as the match entered its 90th minute, Giggs stormed onto Teddy Sheringham’s pass and proceeded to run straight at three Bianconeri defenders before blasting the ball past a helpless Angelo Peruzzi between the sticks.
2. 1999 Champions League Final
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson sprung a surprise for the 1999 Champions League final, opting to start Giggs from the right of midfield.
The plan worked, as the Welshman was able to handle the likes of Michael Tarnat, Jens Jeremies and Alexander Zickler while David Beckham moved into the middle.
Trailing 1-0 to Bayern Munich as the match entered second-half stoppage time, Giggs assisted Teddy Sheringham’s equaliser and then celebrated as, just moments later, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer scored the Champions League-winning goal.
1. 2008 Champions League Final
Giggs didn’t play from the start against Chelsea in the 2008 Champions League final.
Instead, he was introduced in the 87th minute as a replacement for Paul Scholes and played out the second half as well as both periods of extra time.
He then took what proved to be the winning penalty as Manchester United lifted their third European Cup.