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On This Day: Ryan Giggs Scores The Greatest FA Cup Goal Ever

On This Day: Ryan Giggs Scores The Greatest FA Cup Goal Ever

"That has to be one of the best goals ever scored in major football," said Alex Ferguson after Ryan Giggs blasted Arsenal out of the FA Cup in stunning style 21 years ago.

But the man himself only started his spectacular solo run because his passing was so awful. "When I got the ball my feeling was that I was having a bit of a nightmare," Giggs confessed to the Manchester Evening News.

"I had come on for Jesper [Blomqvist] and I kept giving the ball away so I took the decision that the next time I get the ball, I was going to have a little dribble. So that's what I did and before you knew it, it was in the back of the net."

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If only it was that easy for the rest of us mere humans, Ryan.

What Giggs actually did - in extra time, with United down to 10 men against their closest rivals - was latch on to Patrick Viera's misplaced pass inside his own half, take out four Arsenal players at top speed, then lift the ball perfectly over David Seaman to win this semi-final replay.

Literally topping it off, the usually shy Welshman then whipped off his shirt to show a chest even hairier than the gorilla hands of Richards Keys.

'I don't want to see that celebration!" Giggs joked later. "Scholesy nearly took his top off, that would have got me out of jail."

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Even if the goal had 'just' been a semi-final replay winner, it would have been memorable. But it's now even more treasured as it's seen as the crucial starting shot that fired United's run-in to Treble glory in 1999.

An FA Cup replay against Arsene Wenger's Arsenal at their peak, sandwiched between Champions League knockout games and Premier League commitments, was really the last thing Ferguson's side needed.

And it looked to be going badly wrong at Villa Park when, after a David Beckham special from outside the box had put United 1-0 up, Dennis Bergkamp equalised and Roy Keane was sent off for lunging in on Marc Overmars.

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Arsenal even had a golden chance to win the game at the end of normal time, only for Peter Schmeichel to save Bergamp's penalty.

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Giggs - supposedly rested for this match - had been off the bench since the hour mark and in the 109th minute, he raced to history.

Vieira, Lee Dixon, Martin Keown and Tony Adams were undoubtedly tired by that stage. But wingers who combine that level of raw pace with jinking skill will always be a nightmare.

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Or, as Ferguson famously put it: "He is so richly endowed with speed, balance, touch and courage that he can leave the best defenders in the world with twisted blood."

It was clearly still giving Dixon nightmares 18 years later, as he totally lost his train of thought while sat next to Giggs as a pundit when the goal came up, leaving the Arsenal man temporarily silent.

"You're very close now, just remember that," warned the right-back, tugging at his collar.

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Dixon has never forgotten it and it'll go down as the finest goal of Giggs' career - but do you think it's the best FA Cup goal ever? Or even the greatest goal in Man United's long history?

If you can name any better, let us know in the comments.

All imagery: PA Images

Topics: Football News, Football, Manchester United, Sir Alex Ferguson, FA Cup, Ryan Giggs

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Alex Reid

Alex Reid is a writer at SPORTbible who’s previously strung words together for FourFourTwo, Boxing News, The Guardian and, yes, Cruise International (it’s about big ships, not Tom). Interests range from football and boxing to real sports like WWE and darts. He is not a cage fighter.