Ryan Giggs: Is His Manchester United Career Tarnished by Imogen Thomas Scandal?

James WillisAnalyst IMay 24, 2011

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MARCH 19: Ryan Giggs of Manchester United looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Bolton Wanderers at Old Trafford on March 19, 2011 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Ryan Giggs. Twelve Premier League winners medals. Four FA Cup winners medals. Four Football League Cup winners medals. Eight Community Shield winners medals. Two Champions League winners medals. One UEFA Super Cup winners medal. One Intercontinental Cup winners medal. One FIFA World Club Cup winners medal.

That's not it, though. Two PFA Young Player of the Year awards. Six inclusions in PFA Team of the year. One Bravo Award. One PFA Player of the Year award. One BBC Sports Personality of the Year award. Two BBC Wales Sports Personality of the Year awards. One Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year award. Two Jimmy Murphy Young player of the Year awards.

Still more? OBE awarded in 2007. Honorary Master of Arts degree from Salford university awarded in 2008. Freedom of the City of Salford awarded in 2010.

Most important of all: English Football Hall of Fame inductee in 2005.

It's hard to put into words how much Ryan Giggs has achieved. Those long lists are just a mere statistical look at his career, and it doesn't even cover all of it.

The 37-year-old holds a host of Premier League records as well. He's the only remaining Manchester United player to have been a part of all 12 Premier League-winning squads, something Paul Scholes just misses out on. He has the most Premier League appearances for a player, as well as the most Premier League assists.

Giggs is also the only player to have scored in all 19 seasons of the Premier League since its revamp in 1992. His scoring record in the Champions League has gone for 11 consecutive seasons, bettered only by Raul. He also holds the most appearances for Manchester United in history, not to mention his brilliant international career (albeit with a team that struggles to qualify for major tournaments).

Enough of the stats and records, though. Ryan Giggs is quite simply a phenomenal footballer. As the most decorated player in English footballing history, there can be absolutely no doubt that he deserves respect.

Most Manchester United fans will rate him up there with George Best and Bobby Charlton, and there's no denying his name has gone down in history.

The Imogen Thomas scandal is a whole new matter, though. The midfielder was eventually named as the "top Premier League footballer" who had taken out a super injunction to stop details of his affair with the former reality TV star.

Although his name had already been appearing on Twitter and around the web beforehand, there had been no confirmation by any of the top officials involved. Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming eventually revealed that it was Ryan Giggs who had taken out the banning order.

It didn't help his case in the slightest that Giggs attempted to sue a number of Twitter accounts and the company itself for revealing his name. In fact, it damaged his public appearance even more.

Scandals like this in the past with John Terry and Ashley Cole have both seen public opinion of the players drop hugely, and now Ryan Giggs is at risk of the very same thing.

However, as was evidenced by the World Cup last year, just because a player has had personal problems it doesn't mean they can't play football well. Ashley Cole was rated as the best England player from a poor World Cup, and earned much respect as a player, even if he's still rejected as a person.

As mentioned earlier, Ryan Giggs is rated on a par by most fans with George Best in terms of his career and legacy. The same George Best that had longstanding drink problems. The same George Best that ended up serving time in prison. The same George Best that stole money from an innocent woman just to go out for another night of drinking.

That George Best is one of the finest footballers that the British Isles has ever seen. That's not approving of his off the pitch behaviour, but it's separating it.

Perhaps Ryan Giggs won't be the "family man" anymore. Perhaps he won't be a footballer that youngsters should look up to as how to live their lives. But one thing's for sure: his career with Manchester United and as a footballer is unequalled.

On that pitch, nothing else matters. All that counts is his record in the past, and it stands alone as one of the finest in history.