Ryan Giggs trial: Sir Alex Ferguson never saw winger lose his temper, court hears

·22 min read
Sir Alex Ferguson arrives at Manchester Crown Court
Sir Alex Ferguson arrives at Manchester Crown Court

Sir Alex Ferguson has never seen Ryan Giggs lose his temper and he was "best example" of a footballer the former manager had ever worked with at Manchester United, a court heard yesterday.

The 80-year-old entered the witness box to give evidence in the trial of his former protege, who faces charges of coercion and assault against his ex-girlfriend Kate Greville, 36.

He said Mr Giggs had a “fantastic temperament”.

"To have a career as long as he had in a difficult position, in terms of energy, he fulfilled everything we ever wished for," he said.

"He was the best example I’ve had at any club. Everyone looked at Ryan as the number one." Asked if he had ever seen Mr Giggs lose his temper during his 27 years as manager, Sir Alex answered: "No, no."

The 80-year-old recalled how Mr Giggs, now 48, was regularly at the receiving end of the manager’s famous dressing room tongue-lashings as he got older.

He told the court: "I used Ryan a lot in the sense of when I lost my temper about the performance, I'd use Ryan as an example sometimes and he got the sharp end of the tongue.

"He could take it. He was strong enough," Sir Alex said before exhaling sharply, mimicking his former players sitting up and taking notice, and continued: "Everyone else in the dressing room would think: ‘If Ryan Giggs can take it, we can all take it’."

The jury were told how Sir Alex swooped to sign the 13-year-old Welsh schoolboy from under the noses of rivals Manchester City when he and his then assistant Archie Knox went to the Giggs family home.

Sir Alex dealt with Mr Giggs’ mother, Lynne, who he described as "very good and accommodating".

He told the jury how he had to "look after" Mr Giggs, adding: "The thing was the press, the media started comparing him to George Best and we had to face a lot of media attention on the boy and I said to his mother, ‘If you trust me I’ll look after him’ and if anyone from the media wanted him, they had to come through me.

"The next George Best, that’s a big thing, a big issue.  But the boy was great, no problems."

Before Sir Alex’s appearance, the court heard a letter Kate Greville had planned to send to Mr Giggs called "The Final Goodbye", which detailed the ex-footballer’s infidelity.

She shared a draft with friends, telling them she planned on leaving Mr Giggs "in a week" when he was away on Wales managerial duty, and one responded: "Better than watching Jeremy Kyle, that."

In it, she wrote: "They say your gut is your second brain and my gut has always told me you were a compulsive liar and serial cheat… I think you underestimated my ability to find things out."

Ms Greville listed eight women that she said Mr Giggs had been with during their relationship. They were Helen, Zara, Natalie, Suzie, Kelly, Charlotte, a redacted name and Steph.

Helen, she said, "met the kids several times" and Mr Giggs had told his ex-wife Stacey he was in a relationship with her. She also accused him of being in a "full-on relationship" with Zara, who he bought shoes, bags and dresses for.

Ms Greville said she hadn’t "brought these things up" because "the outcome" would be "you deny it... attack me for asking questions" about his infidelity.

She wrote: "Well I’ve taken that away from you, and you will never lie to me or cheat on me again."

Ms Greville goes on to say that she wants Mac the dog, and that "if you want to fight me for him, that’s your prerogative… if you want to get legal about Mac you can get in touch with my lawyer".

She ended the letter saying: "I was living one life with you and you were living multiple lives with dozens of women."

Ms Greville signed off: "Goodbye, Ryan, it’s been extremely emotional. K."

The jury also heard two hours worth of messages from the couple declaring their love for one another, during which Mr Giggs described Ms Greville as "the jam in my doughnut, the salt in my tequila, the truffle in my pasta".

The exchanges revealed that during his tenure as Wales manager, Mr Giggs handed over a copy of his itinerary to Ms Greville which detailed "every minute" of his daily routine so that she could cross-reference it.

There was more poetry read out in court, too, with Ms Greville having penned a rude verse about their sex life and Mr Giggs’ acrostic poem.

Mr Giggs denies all charges against him.

The trial continues.

04:00 PM

Trial adjourned

That's it for day 10.

We'll be back on Monday at 10.30am.

03:58 PM

'Never known him to be violent in any way'

A statement from Mr Giggs’ childhood friend Stuart Grimshaw was read to the court, describing how Mr Giggs’ life “became a fishbowl” when he started playing for the Manchester United first team.

Mr Grimshaw said: “Throughout the time I have known Ryan, despite fame, he has always wanted a quiet life and tried to keep a low profile.”

He added that Mr Giggs “has never been a person to believe the hype about himself and become arrogant”.

“I believe if you were to ask any of the players on the Wales squad, he would probably be the first person they would turn to for advice,” the statement read.

Mr Grimshaw added that in 40 years he had “never known him [Mr Giggs] to be violent in any way”.

03:57 PM

Ed Woodward said Mr Giggs didn't have experience to manage Man Utd

The court heard a written statement from Ryan Giggs’ agent Rhodri Burgess.

He described Mr Giggs as “calm, collected and peaceful, very friendly and very driven”.

Mr Burgess added: “Overall, he is a very relaxed character, always very generous and considerate, both with his time and money.”

He described a meeting when former Manchester United chief executive Ed Woodward told Mr Giggs he “might not have the experience to become the next Manchester United manager – a job he wanted at the time”.

Mr Burgess said: “He reacted calmly and courteously despite being actively criticised regarding his professional experience.”

He added that Mr Giggs had been “highly disappointed with the way he was spoken to”.

The statement said Mr Burgess had been for drinks with Mr Giggs on between 30 and 50 occasions and that “at no point has he been angry or aggressive when in drink or sober”.

03:19 PM

David Gill, former Man Utd CEO, gives character reference

The court heard next form David Gill, the former chief executive of Manchester United.

In a statement read to the court, he said he would deal with Ryan Giggs regularly, and he observed the former footballer in "different social situations and social settings".

Mr Gill left as CEO of the club in 2013, and Mr Giggs continued playing and later managing at Old Trafford.

But he said: "Our paths would also still cross at the occasional golf day"

Describing Mr Giggs, he said: "Ryan is very well-mannered and very professional. He took his job seriously...I always found Ryan very reasonable, intelligent and sensible. He as always very polite.

"I found him to be honest and nothing other than straight down the middle."

He said he couldn't recall any challenges when it came to Mr Giggs' off-field matters.

"You don’t stay at the top without learning to control yourself and your emotions," Mr Gill added.

03:04 PM

'In the last Christmas party before lockdown he was dancing on a chair with Gary Neville'

Chris Daw QC asked Miss Baird how Ryan Giggs acted at social events when drinking.

Miss Baird said: “He has always been happy whenever I have seen him. Never a cross word with anyone.

“In the last Christmas party before lockdown he was dancing on a chair with Gary Neville (Salford City co-owner).”

Mr Daw asked: “Have you ever seen him lose his temper or be aggressive?”

“No,” said Miss Baird.

Mr Daw went on: “In terms of your overview of him as a person, how would you describe him in terms of character?”

Miss Baird said: “I think he is a genuinely nice guy. One of the calmest people I have ever met. Very relaxed and laid back.”

No further witnesses were called for the defence.

02:58 PM

Ryan Giggs is 'a gentleman'

Next giving evidence was Karen Baird, chairman of League Two club Salford City – which Giggs co-owns.

Chris Daw QC asked: “How would describe your relationship with Ryan?”

Miss Baird said: “I think it’s a good relationship and we are friends.”

Mr Daw asked: “How would you describe his character generally?”

She replied: “Very much a gentleman. In meetings I find him attentive. Generally just polite and I have always got on well with him.”

Mr Daw asked the witness to describe his “general demeanour”.

Miss Baird said: “To be fair, he is always very calm. A gentleman. I have never seen him raise his voice.”

02:50 PM

Sir Alex has never seen Ryan Giggs lose his temper

Chris Daw QC's final question to Sir Alex Ferguson asked if the manager ever saw Ryan Giggs lose his temper.

"No," was the answer.

Sir Alex Ferguson, who was in the witness box was for around 10 minutes, then got down from his seat and walked out of the courtroom.

02:48 PM

'He was the best example I’ve had at any club. Everyone looked at Ryan as the number one'

Sir Alex was asked how many professionals he had dealt with in his 27-year career.

He said the club's policy was to deliver 15 young players to him every year as well as all the other players who arrived at Manchester United via transfer from other clubs.

Mr Daw QC asked: "In terms of temperament, from players being quick to anger quick to become aggressive and other end of the spectrum, where would you place Ryan?"

"Fantastic temperament," Sir Alex said.

"Wonderful. A temperament... to have the career he had in a difficult position... he fulfilled everything.

"He was the best example I’ve had at any club. Everyone looked at Ryan as the number one."

02:44 PM

'I'd use Ryan when I lost my temper about the performance'

"How many years did Ryan play for you?", Mr Daw QC asked.

Sir Alex answered: "He came in 17 and played on til he was 41 - fantastic record."

Mr Daw QC added: And during that time did you get a chance to observe his temperament?"

Sir Alex said: "When he got older the issue of the dressing room became... and I used Ryan a lot in sense of when I lost my temper about the performance, I'd use Ryan as an example sometimes and he got he sharp end of the tongue.

"He could take it. He was strong enough," Sir Alex then exhaled sharply mimicking his former players sitting up and taking notice, and continued: “Everyone else in the dressing room would think: ‘If Ryan Giggs can take it, we can all take it’.”

02:41 PM

'Was he a player who in your perception had a number of girlfriends and lady friends?'

Asked how often he would see Mr Giggs, Sir Alex answered: “Every day.”

And questioned on whether his relationship with Mr Giggs was as a manager or if it went beyond that, he answered: “As a manager.”

Mr Daw QC asked: “In terms of his public profile, was he a player who in your perception had a number of girlfriends and lady friends?”

The lawyer rephrased the question as: “Was he someone who had girlfriends as his life progressed?”

To which Sir Alex answered: “Well at that stage, I don’t think there was.

“When he was older he did dinners at the end of the season he would bring a friend with him, yeah.”

02:40 PM

'If the media came towards him, they had to come to me'

Mr Daw QC, for the defence, asked Sir Alex what his personal involvement was when it came to looking after Mr Giggs.

The witness said: "The thing was the press the media started comparing him to George Best and he had to face a lot of media attention on the boy and I said to his mother, ‘If you trust me I’ll look after him’ and if anyone from the media wanted him, they had to come through me.

“The next George Best, that’s a big thing, a big issue.  But the boy was great, no problems.

“So if any media came towards him for interviews, they had to come to me.”

02:33 PM

Ferguson 'looked after' Ryan Giggs

Asked how he saw Mr Giggs develop, Sir Alex explained: "As schoolboys, they trained Tuesdays and Thursday nights, me and my assistant would go to watch the young boys coming through.

"When they became an apprentice, then we were in control of them in terms of the development of them we had a fantastic youth coach at the time.

"And at 17 he came into the first team, very young, and that was the first time we had to think about looking after him."

02:31 PM

Legendary manager interrupted as he recalled Manchester United's young player policies

Sir Alex continued: "Ryan was a quiet boy and sat there and listened to what was being said, what our intentions were with the boy and what the ambition was with the club. Because they were going through a tough time in 1986."

Mr Daw QC asked: "The family or the club?"

Sir Alex smiled and answered: "The club."

He continued: "We had a big job to do and we saw Ryan as one step towards a better vision with regard to young players, because at that time..."

Mr Daw QC then apologised for cutting him off, and said: "I’m sure you can tell us better than anyone the trials and tribulations of Manchester United over the years", but asked the witness to stay on topic.

Sir Alex added: "He was a quiet boy

"It was important we tried to get him you can put him on a schoolboy form, and his other club Man City were also trying to do the same.

"It was an important period for us."

02:26 PM

Sir Alex Ferguson begins his evidence

Chris Daw QC for the defence asked Sir Alex his full name and his age, to which he replied 80.

He went on: "First of all I don't think we need reminding too much, but were you for a long time manager of Manchester United."

He answered: "Yeah, 27 years."

And asked if he came to know Ryan Giggs, he said:  "Yea he playing for a local team... near to Man City’s ground.

"We had to work hard to getting him into Clifton [training ground] at the time.

"One of the scouts... he [Ryan] came with his father on one occasion, and then we started visiting his house to try to convince him to come to Manchester United."

He said when Mr Giggs was 13, himself and his assistant at the time Archie Knox went to his house.

Sir Alex continued: "We tried to convince him to come to Manchester United, but the main contact with his mother. She was very good. Very accommodating."

02:10 PM

Sir Alex Ferguson in the witness box

Chris Daw QC told the court: "Your honour, with your leave, I call Sir Alexander Chapman Ferguson.

02:05 PM

Pictured: Sir Alex Ferguson's arrival

Sir Alex was flanked by Mr Giggs' legal team.

Former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson arrives at Manchester Crown Court - Carl Recine/Reuters
Former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson arrives at Manchester Crown Court - Carl Recine/Reuters

02:00 PM

Sir Alex Ferguson arrives in court

The legendary Manchester United manager arrived just before 2pm

01:44 PM

'I was living one life with you and you were living dozens of lives with other women'

She goes on to say that she wants Mac the dog, and that “If you want to fight me for him, that’s your prerogative.

“I think after everything you’ve put me through I deserve something good out of this relationship.

“This email will be deleted from the moment I send it.

“I’ve blocked you from everything… if you want to get legal about Mac you can get in touch with my lawyer.”

She ended the letter saying she was sad and that she “will probably never never come to terms” with their relationship.

“I was living one life with you and you were living multiple lives with dozens of women.”

Ms Greville signed off: “Goodbye, Ryan, it’s been extremely emotional. K.”

01:44 PM

'You will never lie or cheat on me again'

The letter continued.

Ms Greville, referring to one of the women Mr Giggs was cheating on her with, said she “met the kids several times” that they stayed together in hotels, he paid for her to fly to Barcelona and that he had told his ex-wife Stacey he was in a relationship with her.

She also accused him of being in a “full-on relationship” with a second woman, who he bought shoes, bags and dresses for.

Ms Greville listed nine women that she said Mr Giggs had been with during their relationship.

She referenced Mr Giggs forgetting to pick her up from the airport, but said that he was in fact with another woman.

Ms Greville said she hadn’t “brought these things up” because “the outcome” would be “you deny it... attack me for asking questions” about his infidelity.

“Well I’ve taken that away from and you will never lie to me or cheat on me again.”

01:00 PM

The Final Goodbye letter

The court heard “The Final Goodbye” from Kate Greville, which she intended to send to Ryan Giggs detailing his infidelity.

In it, she said: “They say your gut is your second brain and my gut has always told me you were a compulsive liar and serial cheat.

“I wanted to believe the things you told me and I really did love you.”

She added that “now knows” Mr Giggs was saying the “same things to different women”.

“At least these other women had kids and husbands…I stayed loyal and committed to you no matter what.

“I think you underestimated my ability to find things out.”

She went on to say she didn’t want to know the truth initially, and said: “I think it was a classic case of me putting my head in the sand.”

12:41 PM

Mr Giggs' mother messaged Ms Greville after article

After the article was published, Ms Greville told friends and her sister Emma Greville that she looked "like a man", but said it was good she looked so bad because it made the photographs look "less staged".

Mr Giggs' mother then messaged Kate Greville, saying: "Hi Kate. Are you ok after story in the press today? It's upsetting isn't it? Stay strong."

Ms Greville replied: "Not really and burst into tears before getting out of bed," and thanked her for messaging.

12:32 PM

Ms Greville discussed staging photograph with friends

On Nov 11 and 12, Kate Greville was discussing with friend about "selling stories" and staging a photograph in an attempt to get rid of paparazzi.

It was agreed that the picture would be taken on Sunday, Nov 15, 2020.

Ms Greville said: "I'm drinking Saturday, so it will have to be the afternoon."

A friend of Ms Greville told her: "I think we'll only get 1.5 from The Sun, but we are going to use a freelance photographer who will sell to all the newspapers and magazines, so could get more."

12:25 PM

Kate Greville sent friends draft of 'the final goodbye' letter

It emerged Ms Greville told friends she had planned to leave Mr Giggs when he was "away with camp".

She sent two of her friends the letter, called "The Final Goodbye".

One of her friends responded: "Better than watching Jeremy Kyle that."

12:06 PM

'I’m going under here, Kate'

In February 2020, Ms Greville said she was crying so much that her friend had to get into bed with her.

Ms Greville said to him: "Go and find someone who is easy."

"Define easy," Mr Giggs responded.

Ms Greville said: "Just someone who isn’t me."

She then said it as best if they both unfollowed each other on Instagram.

"Forever?" asked Mr Giggs.

To which she replied "yes".

Mr Giggs later said: "I’m going under here, Kate."

11:43 AM

'The jam in my donut, the salt in my tequila, the truffle in my pasta'

The court has sat through an hour and a half of gushing messages between Ms Greville and Mr Giggs.

In among these exchanges, he called her "the jam in my doughnut, the salt in my tequila, the truffle in my pasta".

11:40 AM

More Ryan Giggs poetry

Mr Giggs sent Ms Greville this message on New Year's Eve 2017.

G is for gorgeous

R is for radiant

E is for extraordinary

V is for vivacious

I is for idolised, by me

L is for legs

L is for legs

E is for everything I've ever wanted

11:38 AM

'I know I can be a pest'

We're now up to February 2020.

Ryan Giggs messaged Ms Greville saying: "Waking up to no message. Is everything okay, Kate? I’m worried."

He then messaged Katie Harvey, who his then-partner was with.

Ms Harvey told Mr Giggs that Ms Greville had broken her phone.

He thanked Ms Harvey for being so "kind" to him, and said: "I know I can be a pest."

She replied: "You are, but you love her."

11:13 AM

'I love you, Kate. I always have, but sometimes that isn’t enough'

The court is hearing messages from the day Mr Giggs flew home from Dubai in February 2020 whilst Ms Greville stayed in the Middle East after an argument during which she was called the former footballer's ex-wife's name.

When he was sat on the runway on the plane, Mr Giggs messaged Ms Greville to say he was still "holding hope" that she was going to turn up.

He then said he had been planning on changing his number and "now seems a good time considering the circumstances".

Mr Giggs added: "I love you, Kate. I always have, but sometimes that isn’t enough."

He said he felt "angry, sad, lost, and frustrated".

Ms Greville responds, saying:  "You called me Stacey several times."

Mr Giggs replied: "I apologise for calling you Stacey. I don’t know what to do."

He went on to say they "can't work" for "loads" of reasons.

"We’re just not compatible," he said.

"When we're good we’re amazing, but I feel like at any minute things can change, we’re not solid.

"Goodbye Kate, be happy... we just weren’t meant to be."

10:57 AM

Mr Giggs sent Wales manager schedule to Ms Greville

The jury heard how Ryan Giggs would send Ms Greville a picture of his schedule as Wales manager.

Ms Greville asked: "How’s Giggsy’s boot camp?"

"Harder than fasting," Mr Giggs answered.

10:49 AM

'I always let people down'

The jury are hearing an exchange of messages between Mr Giggs and Ms Greville after an argument at a restaurant called LPM.

This was the time Mr Giggs left Ms Greville in the restaurant because he believed she was being "unreasonable" when he was trying to sort medical care for his injured daughter.

Ms Greville said it was "beyond cruel and incredibly hurtful and upsetting" leaving her at the table and that it made her feel like a "whore".

She added: "You asked me outright if I was ruining your LPM experience. I said yes, a little," and added that she understood because Mr Giggs' daughter was the "priority".

"That was me being 100% honest," she added.

Mr Giggs responded: "You can twist it all you like - I went outside to call the club doctor, that was it."

The following day, Mr Giggs apologised, and said: "I always let people down."

10:36 AM

More poetry is read out in court

This time, it's from Kate Greville to Ryan Giggs.

The lewd poem said she was "counting down the days" and that she was in a "daze". This went on to rhyme with "raise".

In the verse, she apologised for the x-rated nature of the poem.

10:34 AM

'I feel bad about being horrible about Indians now'

The court heard how the couple discussed Chinese politics and Donald Trump's tweets.

The jury also heard a confusion over one of them being called Fort Knox due to them being "precious" and "full of gold" as opposed to "hard to get into".

Ms Greville then said: "Just been on a conference call to the Indian Tourist Board - they were so lovely.

"I feel bad about being horrible about Indians now."

She also told him there was a villa available for them to stay in "at £8,000 a night instead of £15,000. Bargain."

10:28 AM

'Scrambled eggs a la Chef Giggsy'

We are continuing to hear messages between Mr Giggs and Ms Greville.

On the day after there is alleged to have been a violent incident at a hotel in Dubai in 2017, Mr Giggs messaged his then-girlfriend saying: "It's freezing, raining, delayed flights and I don't have my sunshine to cheer me up."

Ms Greville responded saying she "missed you so much" and that she was lonely, adding that she wished she was in bed with him and continued: "Night night gorgeous man."

Mr Giggs replied: "Baby. Coming home to an empty house is so grim. I love you so much. Sweet dreams."

The morning after, Mr Giggs said he slept well and that he was making "scrambled eggs a la chef Giggsy".

Ms Greville responded saying:  "Chef G aka my incredible boyfriend and super cool dad."

10:12 AM

Ryan Giggs in the dock

The defendant is in the dock and Judge Hilary Manley has asked for the jury to come in.