Ryan Giggs hopes Team GB football continues after Olympics


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The Independent Online

Team GB football captain Ryan Giggs hopes he will not be the last British player to lead a side out at the Olympics.

Stuart Pearce's squad stayed at the Athletes Village for the first time last night following a warm-weather training camp in Spain, but will soon be on the road again as they prepare for the upcoming friendly against gold medal favourites Brazil in Middlesbrough.

There was much controversy around the make-up of the Team GB squad, with objections from the other Home Nations, who were concerned over how selection of their players could impact on future independent international status within FIFA.

In the end, only five Welshmen were included in Pearce's final 18-man group, as Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey, Liverpool winger Craig Bellamy and Swansea duo Neil Taylor and Joe Allen joined Giggs.

The London Olympics will be the first time Team GB have competed in the men's football competition since 1960.

However, 38-year-old Manchester United midfielder Giggs sees no reason why 2012 should be on the last Games at which Team GB goes for football glory.

He said: "The different FAs may have opposed it, but people who I have met face to face have been nothing but positive.

"I am not a politician, but from what I have experienced, I just hope fellow British footballers can experience what I have."

Giggs added: "I hope it is not a one off and that in future Olympics there will be more Great Britain teams.

"Both Craig and I are Welsh and proud of it, but for me it was a chance I could not turn down, of playing in the biggest sporting event in the world.

"I am glad I have done because so far everything has gone great and hopefully that will continue."

Liverpool forward Bellamy - one of Pearce's three overage picks, which did not include former England captain David Beckham - echoed Giggs' sentiments that the Team GB experience should be "embraced".

The 33-year-old said: "It has been immense.

"I never thought this was going to happen, for me to be involved in anything like this.

"I am just want to embrace this and enjoy every moment. This is something I am going to cherish for the rest of my life."

Pearce worked with many of GB squad during their time in the England Under-21 set-up.

The former Manchester City boss believes everything is coming together ahead of the tournament kicking off against Senegal at Old Trafford, Manchester on July 26.

"As a group we have gelled fantastically well, I am really pleased with the way they have come together, which has been quicker than I thought," said Pearce.

"I set teams up to try to win the tournament with the best players I have available.

"A partial success as well would be all of these players going back to their clubs saying what a fantastic experience they had."

Chelsea forward Daniel Sturridge, 22, has now joined up with the GB squad after a spell in hospital with viral meningitis and will be assessed by Team GB.

Pearce said: "I have got to be 100% sure in my mind that Daniel is fit enough and can see out a tournament."