Manchester United winger Ryan Giggs finally gets leading role on the world stage with Olympics captaincy

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

 

Loughborough

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.

"I have been fortunate to win a lot of trophies in my career but as a footballer you never think you might win an Olympic gold medal. 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 goes 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."

Giggs won 64 international caps for Wales. He captained England Schoolboys but, having been born in Cardiff to Welsh parents, he was never eligible to play for senior England teams and has said he would have chosen to play for Wales in any event.

When he made his senior international debut as an 18-year-old in 1991 he was the youngest player to represent Wales at senior level. He retired from international football in 2007, having twice been denied the chance to play in a major tournament at the final qualifying hurdle.

Wales would have gone to the 1994 World Cup had they beaten Romania in their final qualifying game, at home. But, after Paul Bodin missed a penalty with the scores at 1-1, the Romanians went on to secure the win. A decade later, with Giggs' former Manchester United team-mate Mark Hughes in charge, Wales lost to Russia in a play-off for Euro 2004.

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 Wales and the other home nations retain their own identities. "I think there will always be England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland teams," he said.

In that respect, he is in line with the Welsh FA, which was against Great Britain fielding a team in the Olympics, fearing it might pave the way for Fifa to end the right of the British home nations to be seen as individual countries. But he is also squarely behind the right of the other Welsh players in the squad – Craig Bellamy, Joe Allen, Neil Taylor and current national captain Aaron Ramsey – to take part.

"You were always going to get a bit of negativity but the players wanted to be involved and I think for the young Welsh players it can only help them and help Welsh football. With another World Cup qualifying campaign round the corner it can only be a good experience.

"As soon as the opportunity was there to put my name down as available I jumped on the chance. I've wanted to be part of it from the start."

Given his enormous collection of winners' medals – 12 Premier League titles, five FA Cups and two Champions Leagues – it might be supposed that even an Olympic gold would seem small beer.

But Giggs refused to be drawn into downplaying the event. "I never like to say one trophy is better than another," he said. "They are all great experiences, whether it be winning the Champions League in the last minute or winning a hard-fought league, they all bring different feelings. Hopefully, I will get the chance to tell you later how this one feels."

Pearce had no doubt it would be a high spot of his career, particularly in management. "I've been to tournaments as a player but in management terms I still see myself as someone who is learning."

 

Get Adobe Flash player

 



Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Arts and Entertainment
<p><strong>2008</strong></p>
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>
filmRobert Downey Jr named Hollywood's highest paid actor for second year running
Life and Style
Dale Bolinger arranged to meet the girl via a fetish website
life
Property
Sign here, please: Magna Carta Island
propertyYours for a cool £4m
Life and Style
tech
News
The Commonwealth flag flies outside Westminster Abbey in central London
news
Arts and Entertainment
Struggling actors who scrape a living working in repertory theatres should get paid a 'living wage', Sir Ian McKellen has claimed
theatre
Extras
indybest
News
Skye McCole Bartusiak's mother said she didn't use drink or drugs
peopleActress was known for role in Mel Gibson film The Patriot
Arts and Entertainment
tvWebsite will allow you to watch all 522 shows on-demand
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

20 best days out for the summer holidays

From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

All the wood’s a stage

Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

Self-preservation society

Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor