London (AFP) – Ryan Giggs has a special place in the pantheon of Manchester United’s greats — a dazzling teenage talent who ended his career at Old Trafford as the most-decorated player in English football history.
The former winger, 47, served as assistant at United under Louis van Gaal after his playing days were finally over and was appointed as Wales manager in January 2018.
Under Giggs, Wales qualified for Euro 2020.
However, he will be unable to lead his country at the delayed tournament, which starts in June, after being charged with assaulting two women.
Giggs will appear in a Manchester court in April while caretaker manager Robert Page will remain in charge of the national team.
Giggs, who maintains his innocence, will rue his absence from the touchline but for all the success he has enjoyed in his short career in the Wales hotseat, he is best known for his staggering exploits on the pitch.
Former United manager Alex Ferguson recalled his first glimpse of the boy who would play a pivotal role throughout his Old Trafford reign.
“I remember the first time I saw him,” he said. “He was 13 and he floated across the ground like a cocker spaniel chasing a piece of silver paper in the wind”
Giggs, who was on Manchester City’s books as a youngster, made his league debut for United against Everton in March 1991 at the age of 17.
In his early days the Cardiff-born winger, blessed with explosive pace and a dazzling skill-set, inevitably drew comparisons with 1960s United star George Best, with his ability to torment opposition defenders.
Off the pitch he became a pin-up and was one of the most marketable players as the glitzy Premier League era began.
He was part of the famous “Class of 92” alongside David Beckham, Paul Scholes, the Neville brothers and Nicky Butt but in terms of honours he outdid them all.
The most iconic moment of his career was his winning goal in the 1999 FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal, when he raced from his own half and slalomed through the Arsenal defence before smashing a shot past David Seaman.
– Treble-winner –
That year United went on to complete an historic treble, their greatest achievement during two decades of almost non-stop success under Ferguson.
But there were countless other moments of magic in a career in which he racked up a club-record 963 appearances over 23 years, scoring 168 goals. On top of that he made 64 outings for Wales.
In his later years Giggs evolved from being a dashing winger into a calm, creative midfield presence, remaining a key player as he approached 40.
The Welshman, who won a staggering 13 Premier League titles and two Champions League trophies in a trophy-laden career, finally hung up his boots in 2014.
He briefly served as interim manager at the end of the 2013/14 season, following the ill-fated tenure of David Moyes, and worked for two years under Van Gaal.
Giggs was never a vocal leader on the field in the mould of some of his Manchester United teammates, and was not considered automatic management material.
When he was appointed as Wales boss he said he was aware that his status as one of the their greatest players was no guarantee he would succeed at the helm of the national team.
He will hope he has the chance to lead the side at a major tournament again but for now will have to watch, frustrated, from the sidelines as he awaits his court date.
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