(REUTERS, AFP) - Ryan Giggs is leaving Manchester United after 29 years at Old Trafford, the Premier League club said on Saturday.
The 42-year-Welshman played 963 games for United, winning 13 Premier League titles and two Champions Leagues in a glittering career before hanging up his boots in 2014.
He worked in coaching roles with managers David Moyes and Louis van Gaal after Alex Ferguson retired in 2013 but decided not to seek a role alongside Jose Mourinho who took over the top job in May.
"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," Giggs said in a club statement.
"It's healthy to have high expectations, it's right to expect to win. Manchester United expects, deserves, nothing less," he added.
"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.
"However, the time feels right and although I have no immediate plans to step into management, it is where I want to be."
Giggs congratulated Portuguese Mourinho on his appointment.
"There are only a handful of proven winners at the very highest level and Jose is unquestionably one of them," he said.
"My final thank you is to the fans. I cannot begin to tell you how much I will miss walking out at Old Trafford in front of you. It's extremely difficult to say goodbye after 29 years. I have loved every minute both as a player and assistant manager.
United Executive Vice Chairman Ed Woodward paid tribute to Giggs's contribution.
"Ryan's place in the history of Manchester United is assured," he said.
"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."
"He has tackled his coaching and management responsibilities with similar rigour and diligence. Everyone at the club wishes him well in his new career."
Ryan Giggs' career in numbers
17: His age when he made his debut, inauspiciously as it turned out in a 2-0 defeat by Everton on March 2, 1991.
40: Time when at last his insatiable appetite and fitness finally gave out and he retired from strutting his wares on the pitch in May 2014.
963: Not surprisingly given his longevity as he set the record for appearances in a United shirt. This is the total for all competitions.
168: The number of times he hit the back of the net for United in all competitions.
13: His most productive haul for United in a single Premier League campaign came in 1993-94, his 13 league goals part of his highest-scoring season of 17 in all competitions.
1: Only on one campaign did Giggs fail to rack up at least one goal in the Premier League for United leaving the worst to last as it were, his final campaign in 2013-14.
0: He could never be accused of lacking passion but unlike the snarling images of Roy Keane and Gary Neville surrounding referees Giggs stayed out of trouble and as a result never received a red card.
4: He has had time in the managerial dugout as the man in charge, these four games he was caretaker manager of United after David Moyes was sacked in the 2013-14 campaign. He oversaw two wins, a draw and a defeat but it was never going to be enough for him to be rewarded with the job full-time and Louis van Gaal replaced Moyes.
34: The most decorated player in English football history with 34 medals: 13 Premier League titles, four FA Cups, three League Cups, nine Community Shields, two Champions Leagues, one World Club Cup, one Intercontinental Cup and one Uefa Super Cup.
1: The number of trophies United have won since he retired as a player - last season's FA Cup, when assistant to Van Gaal, who was promptly sacked and Jose Mourinho took over.
0: The number of major continental finals he qualified for with Wales, although he did make an appearance for a specially permitted Great Britain team at the 2012 Olympics. Led by another world class talent, Gareth Bale, Wales reached the semi-finals of a major tournament for the first time ever at Euro 2016 on Friday.