MANCHESTER United and former Wales international star Ryan Giggs married his long-time partner, Stacey Cooke, yesterday.
A private ceremony took place in Manchester, attended by close family and friends.
The couple’s two children, Liberty, four, and Zach, one, were both part of the congregation, although it is not known whether any of Giggs’ United team-mates were present.
With the 33-year-old now retired from international football, he will play no part in today’s clash against Germany so the couple will at least have some time to enjoy the early days of married life.
But Cardiff-born Giggs, who earns £90,000 a week, will be expected back in training next week ahead of Saturday’s Premier League encounter with Everton at Goodison Park.
The winger’s new commitment is a world away from his younger days when he earned just £29.50 a week as a Manchester United apprentice.
He romanced a woman four years his senior at the tender age of 15, then dated TV presenter Dani Behr, went out with Hollyoaks actress Davinia Taylor and dated his best friend’s sister Emma Gardner before meeting Stacey, an interior designer, in 2002.
The pair, rarely pictured in public together, caused a bit of a stir when they became a couple, particularly because Stacey used to date Emma’s brother Dave, who has now married Ryan’s ex Davinia.
He has said, “When I was younger I was coming back to an empty house and probably doing things with my mates and maybe having a couple of beers, and that is how you would get over the football disappointments.
“Now it’s completely different and I have to think of other people. My lifestyle dramatically changed since having kids.
“I’m not doing the same things I was at 19 or early 20s, going out every week and enjoying myself with my friends. Sometimes you get into a bit of trouble but mostly you stay clear, it could be the littlest of incidents, yet it would find its way into the papers somehow because of your profile.
“Getting into trouble or being in the wrong place at the wrong time happens to the majority of footballers, but I have two children now and my family is the most important thing to me.
“Once you have that stability in your personal life then that reflects on your football and that is definitely a reason why, with my football over the last three or four years, there has been more consistency in my game, together with life’s experiences.”
Earlier this year, as he launched his book Giggs, The Autobiography, he said, “I love fatherhood and everything that goes with it.
“I have Liberty and Zach now and I’m probably the most content with life as I have ever been, and having a family plays a very important part in that.
“Fatherhood is a great leveller. The kids don’t really know what I do for a living.
“They only know me as dad, and it doesn’t matter what you have done that day or afternoon, I’m just dad to them.
“The whole life issue does put matters into perspective, it’s great to come home to that family type of atmosphere.
“There is no better feeling than watching your kids grow up, going through different ages, phases and emotions.
“It’s just one of those things that the more you put in, the more you get out.”
Last February, he signed a petition against plans to close Hope Hospital baby unit where Liberty was born seven weeks prematurely, weighing 3lb 6.5oz, in April 2003.
He said, “The staff were absolutely fantastic.”
In Giggs, The Autobiography, he also spoke about how he wanted a bigger family to make up his “home team”.
One of very few players to have spent their entire career at the same club, he retired from international football in June.
His childhood heroes were Old Trafford favourites Mark Hughes and Bryan Robson.
It is thought the newly-weds and their children will continue to live at the family’s mansion in Worsley, Manchester.