Ryan Giggs has been a Manchester United player for 23 years and amassed a club record 940 appearances. Sir Alex Ferguson has been United’s manager for 27 years and will take charge of his 1,500th and final game against West Brom this Sunday.
Both have incredible records at United and are rightly regarded as two of the greatest individuals the club has ever had. To think of United without either is hard to comprehend but all good things have to come to an end.
And speaking with The Daily Telegraph, Ryan Giggs has admitted that he never envisaged outlasting Ferguson at United having been brought by him to the club back in 1990.
“If I’m honest, it probably still hasn’t sunk in,” Giggs said. “I think it will only really kick in when we turn up for pre-season and the manager isn’t about the place.
“I never, ever thought I would outlast him, that’s for sure. Never, ever. I have only ever known one manager at club level and I have been lucky in the respect that it has been probably the best manager ever.
“So it is going to be strange and it’s going to be weird next year. It will also be sad for me because of the amount of time I have known him and the relationship I have with him.”
I don’t think anybody expected anyone to outlast Ferguson, such was his unrelenting passion and desire as manager even at 71 but his retirement is richly deserved after dedicating nearly three decades of his life to the club.
He arrived at Manchester as a fiery, explosive Scot with a winning mentality and despite winning almost 40 trophies, Giggs knows that mentality will never leave him despite being toned down after so much success.
“It will be an emotional one on Sunday, knowing that it will be the last time that he will be our manager.”
Giggs continued: “He still has a temper and, when he feels like he needs to use it, he will, but the players today wouldn’t recognise him from 20 years ago. They just wouldn’t.
“He was just so ferocious. The desire and the hunger that he still has was just different back then. But now, with experience and the satisfaction of winning and doing so well, he has changed.
“It will be an emotional one on Sunday, knowing that it will be the last time that he will be our manager.
“Not only for the person that he is football-wise, but because of the man he is on a personal level, how he has helped us all with our lives, me more than anybody.
“There are so many memories. You can go from playing for Salford Boys and looking over to see the manager and Brian Kidd watching you play at the age of 13 – you just wouldn’t get that now, the manager of Manchester United watching Salford Boys.
“It was just a massive thing and then he came over and told me he wanted me to train with them for a week. It was just, ‘Yeah, I can’t wait’. But you get to where we are now, to the relationship we have, where he will ask me about players, how the lads are, how the team spirit is.
“It’s a relationship that has evolved over the years, so there isn’t just one highlight, just everything. The good times and bad times.”
At 17:45 on Sunday afternoon, Ferguson will clap the travelling United fans for the final time and close the book on the greatest managerial career of all time. If the past fortnight has been emotional, then I’m not sure anybody is prepared for what Sunday evening is going to be like.
For the full Ryan Giggs interview with The Telegraph’s Mark Ogden, visit here