Ryan Giggs has admitted he broke down in tears after Manchester United’s final game of the season - and tried to hide this from Nicky Butt - as the realisation hit that he had finally retired as a footballer after 23 seasons.

The Welshman has been appointed assistant to Louis van Gaal, the new manager, but will not extend his playing career. After United had drawn 1-1 at Southampton on 11 May and flown back to Manchester Giggs sat in his car and cried.

The 40-year-old said: “We got off the plane at Manchester Airport. I was saying goodbye to the players, thanking them. And I’m not an emotional – well, I didn’t think I was. I’m not a really emotional person but my car was parked right outside and I thought: ’I need to get in my car here’. I could feel myself getting emotional.

“So I get in my car and I just went, started crying, started getting really emotional and I think it was just a mixture of saying goodbye to people for maybe the last time and the pressure that I put myself under [as interim manager]. Sounds stupid now, but it’s just not me, it’s just not me at all.”

Giggs, who had been had been put in charge of United’s last four matches following David Moyes’ sacking, then saw Butt as he drove away. “I come out the airport and I come at the lights and Nicky Butt has just pulled up next to me and I’m thinking: ’Fucking hell, can’t let Butty know that I’ve just been crying’,” he said. “So I just give him a little wave and just looked the other way and waited for the lights to go green.”

Life of Ryan: Caretaker Manager is on ITV on Thursday night at 9pm.