Giggs given leading role on the world stage at last


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The Independent Online

It is not on a par with a World Cup, nor even a European Championship, but the Olympic Games football competition will at least allow Ryan Giggs to complete his honour-laden career without the regret that he never played in an international tournament.

He will correct the omission, moreover, by leading Team GB in their pursuit of the gold medal at London 2012 as captain, after the team manager, Stuart Pearce, announced he had given the Welshman the armband – a decision that, he said, had been "one of the easiest of my life".

"It has always been a disappointment, never getting to a major tournament with Wales and that will always be there," Giggs said.

"I have not played in tournament football and I'm thankful for getting a chance. To be involved in the Olympics as a 38-year-old is something you wouldn't expect to happen, so to be involved in a tournament like this, and on home turf, is a massive honour. It ranks very high in my career, especially being captain as well.

"It is going to be tough: there are some good teams and good players in the tournament. But with home advantage and the players we have, we have a good chance."

Pearce said that Giggs, who has captained Wales and Manchester United during his 21-year senior career, had all the right credentials to be captain.

"Making Ryan the captain was probably one of the easiest decisions of my life," he said. "Over 20-odd years he has been an outstanding professional, his reputation and professionalism go before him. He has the respect of the group, he has the respect of me.

"I'm looking forward to working with him not just as a player but as a captain. I think he will take this role as a great honour and embrace it.

"We have a man here who has never played tournament football, which for a player of his ability is a crying shame. I think for him to play a tournament on his own shore and captain the team will be fantastic."

As one of the most gifted players of his generation, he would almost certainly have experienced a World Cup had there been a Great Britain side but he said he did not regret that the home nations retain their own identities. "I think there will always be England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland teams," he said.