Ryan Giggs revealed his bitter-sweet emotions after ending his glittering playing career but also being named as Manchester United’s new assistant manager.
The 40-year-old announced his retirement after 24 seasons, a record 963 appearances, 168 goals and 34 trophies for United soon after he was appointed No 2 to new manager, Holland coach Louis van Gaal.
Giggs’s statistics, which span a career that began at the age of 17 in 1991 and included 13 Premier League titles and two Champions League successes, make him the most decorated player in English history.
A move into a full-time backroom role, however, had long seemed likely after spending the past year as player-coach and then serving as interim United manager after David Moyes was sacked in April.
Giggs said: “I am immensely proud, honoured and fortunate to have represented the biggest club in the world 963 times and Wales 64 times.
“For me, today is a new chapter filled with many emotions – immense pride, sadness, but most of all, excitement towards the future.”
United’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward said: “Ryan Giggs has been one of the greatest players ever to wear the red shirt of Manchester United.”
Van Gaal, 62, will take charge at Old Trafford after leading Holland at this summer’s World Cup.
The Dutchman, who has signed a three-year deal, was identified as one of the club’s top targets soon after previous boss Moyes was sacked.
Van Gaal boasts a rich coaching pedigree having won league titles with Ajax, Barcelona, AZ Alkmaar and Bayern Munich, as well as twice serving as his national boss.
He said: “It was always a wish for me to work in the Premier League.”