Manchester United FC midfielder Ryan Giggs, the most decorated player in English football history, has confirmed his retirement.
The 40-year-old, who spent his entire career at Old Trafford, announced his decision in an open letter published on the club's website following the news that he had been appointed as assistant to new United manager Louis van Gaal.
"I am immensely proud, honoured and fortunate to have represented the biggest club in the world 963 times and Wales 64 times," said Giggs, whose last outing for the Red Devils came when he brought himself on for the final 20 minutes of the 3-1 win against Hull City AFC on 6 May, having assumed caretaker duties after the sacking of David Moyes last month. He scored 168 goals for United.
"My dream was always to play for Manchester United, and although it saddens me to know I won't be pulling on a United jersey again as a player, I have been lucky enough to have fulfilled that dream playing with some of the best players in the world, working under an incredible manager in Sir Alex Ferguson, and most of all, playing for the greatest fans in world football."
Nobody has turned out more times for United than Giggs, who hangs up his boots with 34 trophies to his name, among them 13 English league titles, four FA Cup successes and UEFA Champions League triumphs in 1999 and 2008. His move into full-time coaching means he will remain one shy of Raúl González's UEFA Champions League appearance record, group stage to final, of 142 matches.
He described his retirement as heralding "a new chapter filled with many emotions − immense pride, sadness, but most of all, excitement towards the future", adding: "United fans I hope will share and echo my belief that the club, the management and owners, are doing everything they can to return this great club to where it belongs, and I hope to be there every step of the way."
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