Last updated : 03 June 2007 By Editor

"I should have scored. I did all the hard work but I put too much whip on the ball. It was just disappointing that we couldn't get a win. It was a great performance and we need to keep doing that in the future. That's the benchmark, to be playing well against the best teams. It has been a very emotional week saying goodbye to everyone but I have enjoyed it. The fans have been great from day one right to the end. The players are a good age and there are others coming through. The future looks really good.

"This decision will now keep me fresher throughout the season. The last two months of the season I hardly trained, it was game, recovery, game. Now I won't be away on international duty and will be able to train and work at being ready for the next club game. There are always young players coming through at United, you dare not underperform or go through the motions. You must perform at the highest level each time you go on the pitch. Not just one in three games, you must do it every time. There is no compassion at a club like United and I wouldn't expect any. We want to win things and everyone has to be at their best. I have one season left and I would love to win the Champions League again. We went so close this season, and it is a massive motivation to win it. I have said I want to win it again, it is the only competition I have only won the once, and everyone at United feels that. It is my motivation now. I may have another season at United after this next one, I don't know what will happen then. So I want to make the most of this season coming up. I have a year left on my United contract, we will just have to see what happens next - but hopefully this will benefit me long term. I will see how next season goes. I have felt okay this season and aim now to feel even better next.

"It is difficult to handle the opening months of a season. You play internationals, Premier League, Champions League, week-in, week-out. That is very demanding. Sometimes you come back from an international and everything overlaps. That is difficult and you have to be at your best for every game. And that is hard when you do not have the chance to rest and train properly between matches. I have learned to manage my injuries these days, but you are constantly recovering. I aim to be fresh and stronger. I'm 33, the Premiership does take it out of me.

"Every season the pressure on teams and individuals gets tougher, and that will keep on happening. It is such a great league to play in and win, and it's always tougher. Chelsea and Arsenal have raised the bar and now United are there to be shot at. You can't stand still as an individual and as a team, you cannot stand still. And if I want to be involved I need to manage things differently. Every season I try to look for that extra two or three per cent, in terms of diet and treatment. I'm always looking to improve and that won't stop, be it ice baths or massages. I hope that next season with the extra rest I will get will give me that edge.

"It helps myself, getting breaks during the season and it will help Manchester United because I will be playing less football. But also it will help Wales because I do not feel I have been performing as well as I could. Maybe it is because of the amount of football I have been playing, I don't know. But everyone will benefit from this, club, country and myself. I made this decision about a month ago, not over one particular incident.

Five weeks ago, I had every intention of carrying on, but it's all about the amount of games I play now. No matter what the situation in the group had been, I would not have delayed this decision. I feel it is the right time. I told the squad after training and they all started booing me! It has been a very hard decision, but the right one, and I wish them all luck and I know they will keep improving. I feel this is a good time, the right time to retire and it's a difficult decision for me. I have loved playing for my country and I have loved captaining my country. It wasn't an easy decision."

The Sunday Times:

Giggs conveyed his decision to the Wales manager, John Toshack, 11 days ago. Resigned to the inevitable, Toshack made no real attempt to persuade his best player to change his mind, and the two men concluded the short discussion amicably, agreeing to keep it under wraps until after last weekend's friendly against New Zealand at Wrexham, which was drawn 2-2.

The announcement was made with characteristic dignity last Wednesday at the Welsh squad's Vale of Glamorgan base. The man who made his international debut as a wide-eyed 17-year-old in 1991 would probably have played on if Wales had any chance of qualifying for next year's European championships. When Toshack installed him as captain two years ago, the intention was that Giggs would lead the team to Euro 2008 and on to the 2010 World Cup, by which time he would be approaching 37. South Africa, however, always seemed a tournament too far, and the most gifted Welsh footballer since John Charles believes it is time to concentrate on extending his club career with his beloved Manchester United.

"Look at Scholesy this season," Giggs said. "He's playing better than ever because he doesn't have the extra workload he had with England." Roy Evans, the former Liverpool manager who is Toshack's assistant, said: "Top players get so little time off these days, because of the Champions League, that it's desperately hard for the older ones to keep going and maintain their standards over a 10-month period. I could name players who haven't had two successive days off all season. That can't be right, they need their rest. Ryan played a lot more games for United than anybody expected [44 in all competitions], and looked tired when he joined up with us."

After a Peter Pan renascence that brought him his ninth championship medal and two Premiership player of the month awards, Giggs hopes to play on for another two years but knows doing so will require careful conservation of his energies, and it is against the background of Wales's short-term inadequacy and the relentlessness of Father Time that he went knocking on Toshack's door. The manager was not surprised by what followed. "I sensed it coming for some time," he said. "When we lost in Dublin [1-0 in March], some of the fans singled Giggsy out for criticism. That was unfair because all the players were poor that day, and I know he didn't like it."

Toshack sympathised with his only star of international renown, of which too much was routinely expected. "With Man United, if he's not doing it on a certain day he can give the ball to [Cristiano] Ronaldo or [Wayne] Rooney, and let them get on with it. For Wales, he's our Ronaldo and Rooney, everybody looks to him all the time, and it's a lot to ask," he said. "We're talking about a man who has served his country for 16 years, and he deserves nothing but credit for the way he has conducted himself all that time. If you were looking for a role model you couldn't find a better one."