HE is the most decorated player in English football history and now Ryan Giggs has been recognised by the world of academia.

The 40-year-old was made a Doctor of Science by the University of Bolton for outstanding contribution to sport.

It brought to an end three days of graduation celebrations The former Manchester United player who will now take up a management position at the club said he was delighted to receive the Honorary Doctorate from this university.

He said: “As a football player you do not expect to get this honour.

“It is great to be recognised by this university I have got plenty of ties with Bolton, my two children go to school in Bolton, I used to live in Bolton.

“As a footballer you try to win medals in football but honours like this are extra special because it is the highest honour you can get from a university. It is a great pleasure”

He added: “I would just like to show students what hard work can do, I was lucky enough to have a little talent but I did not get to have 20 years with Manchester United without working hard and I would say to students whatever job they go to hard work is the main thing.”

His daughter Libby joined the audience of friends and family of the graduating students.

Giggs had a joke with David Thacker, the University Public Orator, about him being an Arsenal fan.

He said: “I would like to thank the University of Bolton and thank everyone in this room, all Bolton Wanderers fans.

“Lastly I would like to congratulate all the graduates on your achievements and hard work.”

Introducing him, Mr Thacker said: “Ryan’s extraordinary talent is beyond dispute.

“Throughout his long career Ryan has inspired young people across the world to achieve the very best they are capable of achieving.”

Gill Richards, former head of Bolton School girls’ division and governor of the university, was awarded an Honorary Doctorate for outstanding contribution to Education to inspire the next generation of educationalists, who were graduating in the morning.

She said: “I am absolutely thrilled to be getting this honour because it pulls together my Bolton years as head of the school and also being governor of the university and they were some of the happiest times of my career.”

Margaret Blenkinsop was also honoured for services to the Octagon and the community. She is the former Director of Education and Arts and Chairman of the Octagon.

She said: “I am very proud and privileged.”

Mezzo-Soprano Antonia Sotgiu, from the hugely successful Bolton family, was made a Doctor of Arts for outstanding contribution to music.

She said: ”I am honoured, proud and humbled.

Leigh Vallance, Bolton Hospice chief executive, received a Doctor of Heath Care for outstanding contribution to health care.

She said: “I am very excited to be receiving this award, I have adopted Bolton because I think it is a great place to be.”

Chancellor Sir Ernest Ryder said: “We have had, this week, some extraordinary achievements, we have had people from the care leavers academy who have come through the direct access scheme at the age of 16 and have graduated which is which is an extraordinary personal achievement .

“They are doing things that some of our previous generations never thought were possible.

“I am very proud to be associated with an institution which has such strong roots in the town and region where I was born and education.”