MANCHESTER, England -- After 13 league titles, two Champions Leagues, 963 appearances and many more amazing memories, Ryan Giggs brought an end to his incredible 23-year playing career at Manchester United on Monday to take over as the clubs assistant manager. British footballs most decorated player made the announcement in an open letter on Uniteds website, just an hour after he was named as the No. 2 for new manager Louis van Gaal. "For me, today is new chapter filled with many emotions -- immense pride, sadness, but most of all, excitement towards the future," the 40-year-old Giggs said. Giggs will go down as one of the greatest players in the Premier Leagues 22-year history. He is certainly its most durable, playing in every season since the league inception in 1992 -- first as a flying left winger before refining his game to play deeper in midfield. His match-clinching solo goal in the FA Cup semifinal replay against Arsenal in 1999, where he set off from inside his own half, ran around three defenders and slammed a shot into the roof of the net, has gone down as one of the greatest goals in English football. His famous shirt-swinging celebration as he sprinted, bare-chested, along the touchline at Villa Park is also part of FA Cup lore. That will probably be his career highlight on a personal level but he was always more of a team man, one of the most valuable players in Uniteds successful, trophy-laden era under Alex Ferguson, who protected Giggs as a youngster after poaching him from neighbour Manchester City and allowed him to thrive. In an era where players chase money and loyalty counts for little, Giggs remained a one-club man after making his debut against Everton on March 2, 1991 as a lithe 17-year-old wearing a baggy shirt and hitched-up shorts. "I am immensely proud, honoured and fortunate to have represented the biggest club in the world 963 times and Wales 64 times," wrote Giggs, who never played in a World Cup but was a member of Britains squad at the London Olympics. "My dream was always to play for Manchester United, and although it saddens me to know I wont be pulling on a United jersey again as a player, I have been lucky enough to have fulfilled that dream playing with some of the best players in the world, working under an incredible manager in Sir Alex Ferguson, and most of all, playing for the greatest fans in world football." Giggs also won four FA Cups, three League Cups, one UEFA Super Cup, an Intercontinental Cup and a Club World Cup. Last season was the only one in his career where he failed to score a Premier League goal, leaving his career haul at 168 in all competitions. Ferguson, who retired last year, once said that Giggs -- as a 13-year-old -- seemed to float across the ground "like a cocker spaniel chasing a piece of silver paper in the wind," and that description remained true to his last days. Toward the end of his career, when his hair became speckled with grey, he relied on speed of thought rather than the speed of his legs, with his games carefully selected in Fergusons final seasons. Under David Moyes last season, Giggs was used sparingly with more of the Welshmans time taken up by his role as coach. His last game came at Old Trafford against Hull two weeks ago, when he came on as a late substitute to set up one goal and almost score another with a curling free kick that was tipped over the bar. After Teddy Sheringham, Kevin Phillips and Gordon Strachan, Giggs was the fourth outfield footballer to have played in the Premier League in their 40s. "Remarkable career by a loyal, legendary (United) entertainer," FIFA President Sepp Blatter said on Twitter. "963 games. 34 trophies. 1 club." Giggs is being groomed by United as a future manager and he had a brief glimpse of life in the dugout at the end of last season, when he took interim charge for the final four games. If his coaching career is even half as successful as his playing career, he will have done extremely well. "What he has achieved will never be equaled in the English game," United vice chairman Ed Woodward said. "In the way he played, he was the embodiment of a Manchester United player -- fast, skilful, entertaining and determined to win by playing exciting football." T.J. Oshie Capitals Jersey Authentic
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. Spains victory rendered Frances 3-0 win against Finland meaningless as Spain needed just one point to secure passage to Brazil. Franck Ribery and Karim Benzema scored either side of Joona Toivios own-goal as France advanced to the playoff among the eight best second-place finishers. SHEFFIELD, England -- Italys Vincenzo Nibali displayed his riding smarts at the Tour de France, winning Stage 2 on Sunday and taking the yellow jersey after a well-choreographed attack on rivals in the postindustrial English city known for "The Full Monty." The Astana team leader nicknamed "The Shark" for his road savvy took the final lead in a cycling dance of sorts with other title hopefuls, who took turns in front in the last stretch through a sea of fans from York to Sheffield. Nibali perhaps had more at stake: The 29-year-old rider has won the Italian Giro and Spains Vuelta, but has never captured cyclings showcase event. The victory on Sunday gave him both his first Tour stage win and yellow jersey, and sent a message that he could contend to take it home from Paris in three weeks. With less than two kilometres left, Nibali escaped a 21-man breakaway bunch at the end of the 201-kilometre course over nine heath-covered hills of Yorkshire, and held off their late surge. England is hosting the first three Tour stages this year. GERMAN LOSES YELLOW JERSEY Marcel Kittel, a powerful German sprinter who often struggles on climbs, trailed nearly 20 minutes back and lost the yellow jersey that he had captured by winning Stage 1. While the Italian won the fight to the line, under the shadow of a black Sheffield Forgemasters tower, defending champion Chris Froome of Britain and two-time winner Alberto Contador of Spain are focusing more on the overall race -- which ends July 27 on Paris Champs-Elysees. Overall, Nibali leads 20 other riders by two seconds, including Froome in fifth place and Contador in eighth. A six-man breakaway bunch tried its chances early, but got swallowed up by the pack with less than 40 kilometres left. Then, the big race stars moved to the front, splitting the pack. Contador, Froome, and Americans Andrew Talansky and Tejay van Garderen all spent time at the front. At times, they mustered bursts of speed or zipped across with width of the road in tactical manoeuvrs. "In the finale, a lot of contenders were making moves: Nibali ended up taking two seconds on us," Froome said. "Its not a big margin. For me, it was about staying out of trouble to stay at the front, and avoiding any major issues or splits. "Im tired, but I hope everyones tired after a day like today." TIME TO WORK, ASTANA Dave Brailsford,, boss of Froomes Team Sky, said the leaders actually "were all hesitant, because nobody wanted the jersey.dddddddddddd" In the cycling playbook, the yellow shirt brings both glory and responsibility. Brailsford said: "Astana will have to now defend it, which is pretty good for anybody else. "Perfect. Theyve got to work." Nibali didnt dare claim he might keep it all the way to Paris, saying "the Tour de France doesnt stop here: We have three weeks to go, and very tough and tricky stages lie ahead." Mondays stage should be a far less grueling ride: Riders cover 155 kilometres from Cambridge to London, where the pack will finish on the Mall not far from Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. CROWDS FOR A CLASSIC STAGE The course Sunday resembled that of historic one-day races known as "classics," which often feature hilly terrain. Michael Rodgers, an Australian on Contadors Tinkoff-Saxo Bank team, called it "a bit of a special stage, like the Amstel Gold Race, but with 20 times the people." New roads for cyclings greatest race also mean new audiences, some of whom are so enthusiastic and eager for a selfie with the pack that they might not realize the hazards of getting too close to the riders as they go by. Untold thousands turned out just hours after one of the biggest British stars in the race, Mark Cavendish, dropped out because of pain from a separated right shoulder sustained in a crash Saturday. "There are thousands and thousands of people. Its great but its also dangerous," Contador said. Race officials say millions of fans have flooded the course route in just the first two stages. While Yorkshire doesnt have ascents on a par with the Alps or Pyrenees in France, riders faced nine low- to mid-grade climbs. The hardest was the Holme Moss pass. The steepest was also the shortest: The 800-meter Jenkin Road pass had an average gradient of 10.8 per cent. Several riders crashed. Simon Gerrans, who went down with Cavendish in Saturdays stage, also spilled -- as did van Garderen and Joachim Rodriguez, the third-place finisher in the 2013 Tour. All recovered to finish the stage. On the up-and-down, picturesque course, the 197-rider peloton scaled a narrow, cobblestone hill in Haworth, where the Bronte sisters -- the famed 19th-century novelists -- lived when their father was parson in the town. Wholesale NFL Jerseys
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