The Giggs Story: 1991-94
Ryan Giggs was a wiry 17-year-old when he made his Manchester United first-team debut, against Everton on 2 March 1991 as a substitute for Denis Irwin.
That was the wider footballing world’s first glimpse of a football phenomenon, but Giggs’ talent had long been observed inside the club and he had already been playing for the reserves for two years.
He made only one other appearance in 1990/91 but it was a memorable one as, on his first league start against Manchester City two months later, he was credited with the winning goal, though it took a huge deflection off Colin Hendry.
Giggs missed out on the Cup Winners’ Cup final squad 11 days later but his exciting impact was such that in the following 1991/92 campaign he was frequently chosen ahead of Lee Sharpe on the left wing. A month after making his international debut for Wales, he picked up his first senior trophy in November 1991 as United beat Red Star Belgrade in the European Super Cup final.
The following April, Giggs set up Brian McClair to score the winner in the League Cup final against Nottingham Forest and he was voted PFA Young Player of the Year. He had also been continuing to play for the youth team and captained the famed 'Class of '92' to FA Youth Cup final glory, but the first team missed out agonisingly on the title after being overhauled by Leeds.
However, Alex Ferguson had finished assembling the team that would go on to dominate English football and Giggs played an integral role in United’s capture of the inaugural Premier League title in 1992/93, making 40 starts and becoming the first player to retain the PFA Young Player award.
In 1993/94, Giggs’ first foray into the European Cup ended unhappily as United bowed out on away goals to Galatasaray in the second round after a stormy encounter in Turkey. But the Welshman went on to enjoy his most prolific season in front of goal, scoring 17 times in all competitions to help the Reds to the Double, which would have been a domestic Treble but for defeat to Aston Villa in the League Cup final.
Giggs’ breakthrough years were characterised by unpredictable, lightning-fast runs and goals of both the crucial and spectacular variety – including wonderful individual efforts against QPR and Tottenham. He was a two-time league champion before he’d reached his 20th birthday and there was so much more to come.