London (AFP) – Former Manchester United footballer Ryan Giggs, on trial for assaulting and coercively controlling an ex-girlfriend, told a UK court Wednesday that his record of one sending off in a 24-year career showed he was not prone to violence.

Taking the stand at Manchester Crown Court for the second day running, the former United and Wales forward broke down in tears as he described spending a night in the cells as the “worst experience of my life”.

Giggs denies physically assaulting former partner, PR agent Kate Greville, and her sister nearly two years ago.

He also denies controlling Greville during their rocky years-long relationship.

Giggs claims that injuries sustained by Greville were an accidental result of a three-way tussle between her and her sister over a mobile phone.

The former winger admitted he “may have caught her and her sister”, but that his playing career showed he was not violent.

He told the court it was “part and parcel” to be verbally abused and provoked on the pitch.

“On any occasion did you react to any of that with violence?” asked his lawyer Chris Daw.

“No,” replied Giggs, saying he had only received the red card once in more than 1,000 appearances.

The court also heard intimate details of the pair’s love-life, with the defence countering allegations that Giggs pressurised Greville into having sex by reading out texts she had sent. 

Giggs was arrested by police at his home in November 2020 and released on bail.

He has denied the allegations and pleaded not guilty at an initial court appearance in April last year.

His trial was due to be heard in January but it was delayed due to a backlog of court cases caused by the Covid pandemic. 

Giggs’s lawyer, Daw, has acted for high-profile sports figures including former England and Chelsea football captain John Terry, who was found not guilty of racially abusing fellow player Anton Ferdinand in 2012.

Giggs resigned as the Wales manager in June, after being on leave since his arrest. 

He said he did not want “continued interest around this case” to affect the team as it prepares for this year’s World Cup in Qatar.

He remains on conditional bail, and has said he looks forward to “clearing my name”. 

Giggs exploded onto the scene as a teenager in the mid-1990s, ending his career at Old Trafford as the most-decorated player in English football history. 

As a player, Giggs made a club-record 963 appearances over 23 years for Manchester United, winning 13 Premier League titles and two Champions League trophies.

He then began his coaching career at Old Trafford, taking temporary charge at the end of the 2013/14 season after David Moyes was sacked before working as an assistant to Louis van Gaal for two years. 

Giggs was appointed Wales boss in January 2018 and helped them secure qualification for Euro 2020, just their second major tournament appearance since the 1958 World Cup.