Ryan Giggs praises Jose Mourinho as he leaves Manchester United after 29 years
Ryan Giggs has ended a near three-decade spell with Manchester United as he eyes a managerial role after missing out to Jose Mourinho in taking charge at Old Trafford.
The 42-year-old came through the ranks with United after signing at the age of 14, winning 34 trophies during a formidable playing career.
He then took over as interim manager for four games in 2014 after the sacking of David Moyes, leading the club to two victories before taking up a role as assistant manager under Louis van Gaal.
Giggs, capped 64 times by Wales and voted United's greatest all-time player in a 2011 poll conducted by the club, still had a year to run on his deal but will move on as new manager Mourinho looks certain to bring in long-time assistant Rui Faria.
With Giggs overlooked for the hot-seat at United in favour of the Portuguese, he is now keen to set off on his own managerial path - bringing down the curtain on his 29-year association with the Red Devils.
"After 29 seasons at Manchester United as a player and assistant manager, I know winning is in the DNA of this club - giving youth a chance, and playing attacking and exciting football. It's healthy to have high expectations, it's right to expect to win. Manchester United expects, deserves, nothing less," he said in a statement on manutd.com.
"This is why it is a huge decision for me to step away from the club that has been my life since the age of 14.
"It has not been a decision that I have made lightly. I'll take away so many special memories as well as a lifetime of experiences that will, I hope, serve me well in the future."
Giggs made his United debut back in March 1991 and went on to score 168 goals in a record 963 appearances, lifting the Premier League trophy 13 times under then-manager Sir Alex Ferguson.
Having completed his coaching badges, he was linked with Swansea City last season and Nottingham Forest this summer, although that post has now been filled by Frenchman Philippe Montanier.
And Giggs now admits those years under Ferguson, as well as his two seasons in the dug-out next to van Gaal, will help him when he takes his first steps into the world of management.
He said: "The time feels right (to leave United) and, although I have no immediate plans to step into management, it is where I want to be.
"I've been extremely fortunate in having two great managerial mentors; first in Sir Alex (Ferguson), who I've spent the majority of my life working with and learning from and who I believe will remain as football's greatest-ever manager and in more recent times, Louis van Gaal, whose CV speaks for itself. The knowledge I have gleaned from them has been invaluable.
"It's time for a new chapter and a new challenge. I'm excited about the future - I've had the best apprenticeship into management anyone could ever ask for."
He went on to praise new incumbent Mourinho, even if the former Chelsea and Real Madrid boss took the job he was ultimately hoping to land for himself.
"I want to congratulate Jose Mourinho on his appointment as manager of the world's biggest club," he added.
"There are only a handful of proven winners at the very highest level and Jose is unquestionably one of them. I know the fans will welcome him."
United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward said Giggs will be missed at Old Trafford and believes he has what it takes to become a "terrific" manager.
He said: "Ryan's place in the history of Manchester United is assured. He has been a constant presence at the club since 1987 and, during his playing days, regularly delighted crowds; first with his dazzling wing play and later with his intelligence and ability to dictate a game.
"The experiences and discipline he developed at United will undoubtedly be a big help as he continues to learn his trade.
"He has all the attributes to be a terrific manager in the future. Everyone at the club wishes him well in his new career. He will be missed but will always be welcome at Manchester United."