Ryan Giggs has announced his retirement as a Manchester United player after it was revealed that the Welshman will take up the full-time position as assistant manager to newly appointed boss Louis van Gaal.
The club confirmed Giggs' 24-year career at Old Trafford would enter its new phase, ending his appearance record for the Red Devils at 963 games:
Manchester United also released a statement in which Giggs spoke of his honour at representing the club, the new challenges ahead and the start of "a new chapter:"
Today is a fantastic day for Manchester United. Louis van Gaal is a great appointment and let me begin by telling you how delighted I am to be working with someone of his calibre. His credentials are second to none and I’m positive the club will thrive under his leadership over the coming years.
For me, today is a new chapter filled with many emotions - immense pride, sadness, but most of all, excitement towards the future. United fans I hope will share and echo my belief that the club, the management and owners, are doing everything they can to return this great club to where it belongs, and I hope to be there every step of the way. To the greatest fans in world football, thank you, I have loved every minute of playing for you and representing the biggest and best club in the world.
Earlier on Monday afternoon, Manchester United made the anticipated announcement that Van Gaal had officially taken over as manager, signing a three-year contract:
Having served as interim manager for several weeks following the dismissal of David Moyes, Giggs will continue his coaching development as Van Gaal's right-hand man.
During his time as a Red Devil, Giggs won 34 trophies, including 13 Premier League titles which, as Squawka suggests, is indicative of an incredibly efficient success ratio:
Ryan Giggs won a Premier League title on average once every 48.6 games during his top flight Man Utd career. Unreal! pic.twitter.com/R06HTQKQAp— Squawka Football (@Squawka) May 19, 2014
Though Sir Alex Ferguson's influence from the Manchester United helm was so influential on the club's success, one might argue the Scot wouldn't have fared nearly as well without the illustrious "Class of '92," of which Giggs has always been the jewel.
He produced many an incredible moment with his mazy dribbling skills, not least the FA Cup goal against Arsenal that was so key to the famous 1999 Treble year:
At the age of 40, there's no doubt the Welshman's best playing days are long, long gone. But he remained capable of showcasing glimmers of brilliance right up until his very last playing minute.
The Times' Oliver Kay speaks of a conversation he once had with the veteran regarding his retirement, revealing there is some relief felt on Giggs' part:
Giggs to me last Nov on how he'd feel when he retires: "Relief at not having to think, ‘I’ve got a game in two days. Pile the pasta down.’"— Oliver Kay (@OliverKayTimes) May 19, 2014
Giggs featured in 12 Premier League fixtures during the 2013-14 season, creating nine scoring chances and maintaining a passing accuracy of 83 percent, per Squawka.
BBC Sport shows just what an impact his presence had on United, boasting a win percentage that, over the course of almost two-and-a-half decades, is nothing short of extraordinary:
Players and journalists of the industry alike paid tribute to the ex-midfielder, with departing teammate Rio Ferdinand, The Guardian's Owen Gibson and Martyn Ziegler of the Press Association some of the many to laud Giggs' achievements:
Ryan Giggs retires today....so many gold medals he puts B.A. Baracus to shame! No player adapted their game as well & as effective as Giggsy— Rio Ferdinand (@rioferdy5) May 19, 2014
Is there another player who encapsulates the Premier League era as well as Ryan Giggs? I'd say no.— Owen Gibson (@owen_g) May 19, 2014
The greatest British player of last 40 years retires. Roy Keane omitted him from his best MU XI - says everything about Keane, not Giggs.— Martyn Ziegler (@martynziegler) May 19, 2014
Having served in what many argue to be the world's most entertaining league for so many years, it's only fitting that Premier League also recognise the player's feats:
The 2014-15 Premier League season will now be the first not to include a player who featured in its inaugural campaign back in 1992-93, signalling the end of an era in itself.
Questions and fixated gazes now turn to whether Giggs can be as big a success in management, as the new leg of his career takes him under the wing of Van Gaal.