It’s November 1973 and Manchester United are in dire straits.
The Busby Babes are no longer the fresh faced world-beaters of yesteryear and the Reds have lost eight of their opening seventeen matches.
Just five years earlier the Reds had conquered Europe. Now they are in serious trouble.
United will go on to lose seven of their next ten games – a string of results that will cement their relegation.
While the year may be one of the worst in Old Trafford history there is a glimmer of hope 200 miles away.
As United struggle to find form their greatest ever servant is being born – a boy that will come to define an era of unprecedented and unimaginable success.
Forty years later and Ryan Joseph Giggs, now a stately and composed central midfielder, is the most decorated player in English football history.
While most footballers have retired by forty or are trying desperately to hang on to their glory days in the lower leagues, Giggs, fresh from a stunning performance in the Champions League, is preparing for the prospect of taking on Tottenham in a crucial clash on Sunday.
In tribute to the Welshman’s astonishing career MM look back at Giggs’ top ten moments from his long and, seemingly never ending, career.
10. Bayer Leverkusen 2013/14
Despite it being Giggs’ most recent game the midfielder showed that he still earns a place in the team on merit at 40 years of age by delivering a superb display in Germany.
Giggs was a key player in the 5-0 victory playing the full 90 minutes as well as help create three of United’s goals.
This year’s Champions League campaign also saw Giggs break Raul’s all-time Champions League appearance record when the Welshmen came on as a substitute against Shakthar Donetsk to play his 145th game in the prestigious European tournament.
9. First goal v Manchester City 1990/91
From his last start to his first start Giggs had a dream debut when he scored the only goal in United’s 1-0 victory over Manchester City back in May 1991.
The goal was given to Giggs despite the winger admitting he never got a touch to it but it was credited to him in the record books giving him the first of his 168 United goals.
8. Scores for a 23rd Premier League Season in a row
When Giggs scored against Everton last season it meant the midfielder scored for the 23rd top flight season in a row a feat no other British player has achieved.
The remarkable record started before the back-pass rule was introduced when Giggs was only 17 back in 1990/91 before most of his current team mates from this game were even born.
This goal sees him open the scoring as United ran out 2-0 winner at home to Everton helping United on their way to a twentieth league title.
7. Scoring twice at Anfield
Giggs has made 48 appearances against United’s arch rivals Liverpool but this game was particularly special for the midfielder.
He scored twice in a 2-1 victory as United claimed an important win at Anfield but it wasn’t enough to help United win a second successive league title.
6. Goal against away to Juventus 02/03 season
Giggs was facing mounting pressure about his form that season from the press and some sections of the Old Trafford crowd as well as rumours he was planning a move to Italy.
However he responded with a superb solo effort in United’s 3-1 demolition of Juventus in Turin cutting through the usually solid Italian defence then coolly slotting his shot past Gianluigi Buffon.
5. Wins PFA Player of the Year and Sports Personality of the Year
Giggs had a great year in 2009 picking up two of British sports biggest individual awards after helping United to a eighteenth league crown and a place in the Champions League Final.
The Welshmen was voted the player of the year by his fellow professionals early in 2009 then ended the year by beating Jenson Button to the BBC Sports Personality of the Year.
He became only the fifth footballer to win the award after he scored five goals and created 14 in a successful season at Old Trafford.
4. First Premier League title
Giggs has won thirteen Premier League title so far but his first came back in 1993 as he helped United become English champions for the first time in 26 years.
He appeared in all but one of the 42 league games as well as scoring nine goals to also help him win the young player of the year award for a second successive season.
One particularly great goal from that campaign was scored at White Hart Lane when as Giggs’ quick feet allowed him to weave through the Spurs defence before slotting past the keeper.
3. Equals United appearance record at Wigan
The final game of the 2007/08 season saw United travel to Wigan to play a must win game as they attempted to claim back to back Premier League titles and complete the first part of a domestic and European double.
At 1-0 United were on their way to the title but a Chelsea goal at Stamford Bridge began to unsettle fans as the Londoners breathed down their necks.
Step forward Giggs who came off the bench to equal Sir Bobby Charlton’s all-time appearance record for United and score a second to calm the fans nerves as he claimed his tenth league title.
2. Champions League final 2008
Giggs was left on the bench for the game against Chelsea in Moscow but he showed the impact he could make coming off the bench in the most important game of the season.
By coming off the bench he broke the all-time club appearance record and almost crowned it in the same way he equalled the record by scoring but he was denied by a goal line John Terry clearance.
Instead Giggs kept United’s midfield calm through extra-time before scoring the winning penalty in the shootout to give United a third European Cup.
1. Arsenal FA Cup Semi-Final Replay 1999
The goal which will define Ryan Giggs’ career and will be shown over and over again when he finally hangs up his boots.
The goal saw the ten men of United triumph over title rivals Arsenal which, not only booked them a place in the FA Cup final, but also gave them a psychological edge over the Gunners in the title run-in.
At 1-1 in extra-time, and with Roy Keane sent off, Giggs was brought on to inject some pace into a flagging United side and he did just that when Patrick Vieira played a loose ball on the halfway line.
The Welshmen glided past the whole of the Arsenal back four – considered to be one of the strongest of its era – before riffling his shot past David Seaman in what was simply a wonderful run.
Image courtesy of NRL via YouTube, with thanks