Ryan Giggs
Giggs brings an end to a glittering playing career at Manchester United.GettyImages

Ryan Giggs has announced his retirement as a Manchester United player.

The club's most decorated player of all time announced his decision upon being named assistant manager to Louis van Gaal, who was officially confirmed as the club's new manager on Monday.

In an open letter to supporters posted on the club's official website, Giggs wrote: "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. 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.

"See you next season. Ryan."

Giggs calls time on a magnificent playing career that has spanned 23 years and amassed countless honours including 13 league titles, four FA Cups and two Champions League triumphs.

Perhaps his most iconic moment came at Villa Park in the 1999 FA Cup semi-final when the winger weaved his way past five Arsenal defenders en route to netting the last goal ever to be scored in a semi-final replay.

Giggs would go on to celebrate an unprecedented treble success with United in that memorable campaign, and nine years later he would score his side's final penalty as United secured their third European crown against Chelsea in 2008.

That game in Moscow also saw the Welshman break Sir Bobby Charlton's long standing appearance record for the club when he came off the bench to make his 759th appearance. Three years later he closed in on Charlton's league appearance record when he made his 607th appearance against Liverpool.

This season, the 40-year-old was tasked with leading the club through their final four games of the 2013/14 season following the dismissal of David Moyes in April. He turned to his fellow Class of '92 graduates Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt and Phil Neville to assist him and will now sit beside van Gaal as a new dawn breaks at Old Trafford.