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The veteran midfielder enjoyed a glittering 23-year career on the pitch but brings down the curtain to take up a full-time role supporting new manager Louis van Gaal

Manchester United icon Ryan Giggs has retired from playing in order to focus fully on his new role as assistant manager to Louis van Gaal, penning a goodbye to fans in an open letter on the club's official website.

Giggs's letter in full:

"Today is a fantastic day for Manchester United. Louis van Gaal is a great appointment and let me begin by telling you how delighted I am to be working with someone of his calibre. His credentials are second to none and I'm positive the club will thrive under his leadership over the coming years.

"I would also like to take this opportunity to announce my retirement from professional football and embark upon a new and exciting chapter in my life, as assistant manager of Manchester United.

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"I am immensely proud, honoured and fortunate to have represented the biggest club in the world 963 times and Wales 64 times. My dream was always to play for Manchester United and, although it saddens me to know I won't 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. I have always felt and appreciated your support.

"I want to also give a huge thanks to the backroom staff and support teams we have and have had at Manchester United over the years. I would not have achieved the success I have without your continuing dedication and commitment to creating the best environment to enable the players to thrive. I would not have won 34 trophies in my career without you.

"I would also like to say a special thanks to my friends and family for all your love and support.

"For me, today is a new chapter filled with many emotions - immense pride, sadness but, most of all, excitement towards the future.

"United fans, I hope, will share and echo my belief that the club - the management and owners - are doing everything they can to return this great club to where it belongs and I hope to be there every step of the way.

"To the greatest fans in world football, thank you. I have loved every minute of playing for you and representing the biggest and best club in the world."

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