Ryan Giggs' 11 Greatest Moments at Manchester United

Gregory Wakeman@@gjwakemanContributor IIIMarch 15, 2013

Ryan Giggs' 11 Greatest Moments at Manchester United

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    There isn’t too much more that you can say about Ryan Giggs that hasn’t been uttered before.

    His legacy as Manchester United’s most successful ever player is already confirmed after 23 years of loyal and mesmerising service at Old Trafford, to the point that he even ranks above such footballing deities as Bobby Charlton, George Best, Cristiano Ronaldo and Bryan Robson.

    But Giggs’ story is complex. The Welsh wizard has transformed his game over numerous decades. He started off as one of the most exciting wingers in the world in the early 1990s, and now he is a holding midfielder who can dictate play with his knowledge and intellect, all at the ripe old age of 39.

    His skill is regarded so highly by Sir Alex Ferguson that he has even been signed up to play for another season.

    Giggs is a footballing miracle. So to celebrate, here are Ryan Giggs’ greatest moments at Manchester United.

11. Norwich, 1991

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    Ryan Giggs’ scored his first goal for the Red Devils on September 7, 1991 against Norwich City.

    Of course, those who witnessed his calm and collected finish at Old Trafford that day probably didn’t realise what a seismic moment it was, and he has since gone on to score integral goals against most of the European elite.

    But this effort will be Giggs’ most cherished.

    Giggs latched onto a woeful back pass from a Canaries full back before rounding the goalkeeper with ease and slotting the ball home from a tight angle, proving that he already possessed a sixth sense for reading the game.

10. Bolton, 2003

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    David Beckham’s departure from Manchester United to Real Madrid in the summer of 2003 left the position of free-kick taker at the Theatre of Dreams open.

    Not many people believed that Giggs could step up and dispatch these dead-ball efforts, despite the fact he had done so earlier in his career.

    But on the first day of the 2003-04 Premier League campaign, he refreshed the Old Trafford faithful’s memory with a sublime free kick past Bolton’s Jussi Jaaskelainen.

    It wouldn’t be the last time he would silence his critics.

9. Schalke 04, 2011

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    Manchester United were looking to progress to their third Champions League final in just four seasons in 2011, despite possessing a supposedly weak squad.

    In the draw they were handed a relatively easy semifinal against the German side Schalke, but after a dominant first half, they still couldn’t muster a priceless away goal.

    That was until Giggsy, who had been playing alongside Michael Carrick in central midfield, popped up with a classy finish to lead United to a 6-1 aggregate victory.

    Unfortunately, in the final, Xavi and Andres Iniesta proved to be a much more formidable midfield opposition.

8. Bayern Munich, 1999

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    Manchester United’s treble dreams looked certain to remain unfulfilled as the clock ticked into the last few minutes of the 1999 Champions League final.

    That was until Peter Schmeichel’s presence in the Germans' penalty area wreaked havoc, Bayern could only half-clear a header, and then Ryan Giggs’ woeful shot fell into Teddy Sheringham’s path.

    It wasn’t Giggs’ best-ever shot; in fact, it might have been his worst, but that doesn’t matter at all to Manchester United fans.

7. Real Madrid, 2013

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    Ryan Giggs’ 1000th appearance as a professional footballer was going swimmingly up until Nani was harshly sent off for a high challenge on Real Madrid’s Alvaro Arbeloa.

    This gave the Spaniards the initiative they craved, and they took full advantage to win the tie.

    But Giggs’ stunning first-half performance proved that he could still mix it with the best in Europe, and his display even managed to make United fans forget about Wayne Rooney and Shinji Kagawa’s shock omissions.

    At this rate, he’ll still be playing when he’s 50.

6. Juventus, 1997

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    Manchester United had struggled against the Italian giants in the previous season’s Champions League.

    Alen Boksic and Alessandro Del Piero each led Juventus to hard fought one-nil victories over United in 1996, and the next season looked to be going the same way after Del Piero gave the Italians a lead in the first minute.

    But then efforts from Teddy Sheringham and Paul Scholes gave United the lead before a scintillating strike from Giggs past Angelo Peruzzi confirmed victory for the Red Devils.

    Not even a Zinedine Zidane consolation goal could darken the triumph, which set United up for their semifinal victory over Juventus in 1999.

5. Manchester City, 2009

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    In 2008, Manchester City’s new-found wealth suddenly threatened United’s dominance in the city. By 2009, after a series of signings, the Citizens were now ready to battle for the title, and they even had Sir Alex Ferguson scared.

    But in the most exhilarating derby in Manchester history, United overcame their closest rivals by four goals to three, and it was Giggs who shone the brightest in the display.

    The Welshman claimed three vital assists, and his pass for Michael Owen’s stoppage-time winner was simply sublime.

4. Juventus, 2003

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    By 2003, many Manchester United fans had written off Giggs as a has-been.

    He was injury-prone, had lost a yard of pace and after missing an open goal against Arsenal in the FA Cup, he was seen as a liability.

    But then, at the Stadio delle Alpi in Turin, Giggsy came off the bench to score two wonderful goals, the second of which was a fine solo effort, to prove that he still had a role to play in the team. 

3. Tottenham/Queens Park Rangers, 1992/1994

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    It’s easy to forget just how dangerous Ryan Giggs was in his early years.

    His pace, skill, intelligence and strength saw fans label him the next George Best, and boy, did he live up to that reputation. 

    This was never more apparent than in two similar strikes he had in 1992 and 1993 that mesmerised soccer aficionados.

    In both goals, Giggs picked up the goal from central midfield, drove past two defenders and then rounded the keeper before placing the ball into an empty net.  He was elegance personified.

2. Wigan, 2008

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    Sometimes the world works in mysterious ways.

    On the day that Giggs equalled Bobby Charlton’s appearance record for the club, his late goal against Wigan also earned Manchester United their 17th Premier League title.

    Days later, he then came off the pitch to not only surpass Charlton’s record, but also to score the winning penalty that added the Champions League to his long list of honours, too. 

1. Arsenal, 1999

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    It had to be, didn’t it?

    As the United song so elegantly puts it, “Vieira, Vieira, he gave Giggsy the ball, and Arsenal won f--- all.”

    United had no right to beat Arsenal in the 1999 FA Cup semifinal.

    They were down to 10 men and deep into stoppage time against a sensational Arsene Wenger side when Giggsy set off on his merry jaunt.

    Then he beat Lee Dixon, Martin Keown and Tony Adams with ease and walloped the ball into the roof of David Seaman’s net, and the rest, as they say, is history.

    If United had lost that game, there would have been no treble, and Arsenal probably would have gone on to claim their second double in two seasons.

    But he did, and United did, so that’s that. Thanks, Ryan.