Ryan Giggs joined a long line of Manchester United greats by winning the PFA Merit Award on Sunday.
The former United winger followed in the footsteps of Sir Alex Ferguson, Sir Matt Busby and Sir Bobby Charlton in picking up the prize, which is given for “meritorious service to football”.
Giggs made a club record 963 appearances for the Red Devils and remains the most decorated player in the English game, having won 13 league titles, four FA Cups and two Champions League crowns during a glittering career.
— PFA | Professional Footballers' Association (@PFA) April 24, 2016
Now assistant manager to Louis van Gaal, winning the PFA Merit award completes the set for Giggs, who was named Player of the Year in 2009 and Young Player of the Year in both 1992 and 1993.
“I’m chuffed to have to have won all three awards, the young player was a long time ago and then the player award was a big surprise,” Giggs said.
“This is the culmination of around 25 years since my debut, so it’s a credit to myself, my team-mates, staff, family and friends.
“When you win each award you look down the trophy and you see the players who have won it before and you realise what a great accolade it is.
“This is the same. I’ve been here on the nights when people have won it and it’s legends of the game. I’m fortunate to win it and I’ll enjoy it.”
Giggs also played 64 times for Wales, but never played a major international tournament for his country, with his most notable achievements coming under Ferguson at United.
Asked what the key was to his success at Old Trafford, Giggs said: “What Sir Alex always used to say was enjoy it. It was the last thing he said when you went out and played.
“Everything that comes with that obviously — improve every day, practise, listen, dedicate yourself – but most of all enjoy your football.
“That went for playing when I was 17 until when I was 40. It was a privilege to play at Old Trafford and I tried to enjoy it.”
United have endured a disappointing season under Van Gaal, with the team sitting five points behind fourth-placed Arsenal, albeit with a game in hand over the Gunners.
There is still a chance of silverware, however, after they beat Everton on Saturday to reach a record-equalling 19th FA Cup final.
“It’s obviously big,” Giggs said. “The club have got great history in the FA Cup and it’s 12 years since we’ve won it.
“It was great yesterday to get to the final. It’s a showcase. It’s one of my first memories of football, the FA Cup, so it’s special to me.
“I was fortunate to win it four times so to win it as a coach would be equally as special.”