We weren't good enough, says Team GB captain Ryan Giggs after exit
Great Britain's football captain Ryan Giggs is putting a brave face on his first and almost certainly last experience of a major international tournament.
It ended in the disappointment of defeat in a penalty shoot-out and elimination at the quarter-final stage; which as several Manchester United colleagues past and present could have told him is just about par for the course.
"We weren't good enough, that's the bottom line," he confessed after a 1-1 draw against South Korea in his native Cardiff was followed by a 5-4 defeat on penalties, an inconsolable Daniel Sturridge having his kick saved by the Koreans' substitute goalkeeper Lee Bum-young. Like the women's team, who lost their quarter-final on Friday, the men appeared to have been building some momentum as the competition progressed, only to produce their worst performance when it mattered most.
The players and coaches of both sexes seem certain to go down as the last for many years - if not decades - to represent GB, for the barriers to competing in anything other than a home tournament are formidable. Above all is the problem of the qualifying tournaments, which are usually the men's European Under 21 Championship and the women's World Cup, both competed for by individual home nations. Then there is all the politics that ensued with those other home countries this time.
"I would like other players to experience what I have experienced - the whole Olympic attitude. It can only be good for players' development," Giggs said. "I will always cherish this." The GB manager Stuart Pearce, having seen the latest of his many dramatic penalty shoot-outs go the wrong way, was more realistic: "I don't think it will happen again. Where will we find the time to enter into a qualification tournament?"
Pearce and the women's coach Hope Powell now revert to their full-time jobs, each with the prospect of another major tournament next summer. The men's Under-21 side are well placed to reach a fourth successive European Championship, in Israel, and the women need only win at home to Croatia next month to make their European Championship finals too.
sportBayern Munich 2 Manchester City 3: City come from two down to beat reigning European Champions
newsAs the world remembers Mandela the hero, the prison where he spent 27 years seems all the more brutal
arts + ents... and a chance to paint Booker Prize winning author Hilary Mantel
danceUnder Tamara Rojo's inspired direction, it seems possible that it could challenge the dominance of the Royal Ballet. We meet some established names and rising stars
travelDiscover Uruguay's jet-set beach resort, an Atlantic enclave with plenty of art and culture to explore on the side
Roy Keane omits Paul Scholes, Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs from 'greatest' Manchester United team
Former England captain Mick Mills 'turned a blind eye' to initiation ceremony abuse at Stoke City, which included sexual assault dubbed 'The Glove'
Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira relive rivalry - after the former Manchester United and Arsenal captains shared ice cream in Warsaw
Patrick Vieira put Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp up front in 'greatest' Arsenal team - but there's no room for Cesc Fabregas and Marc Overmars
Manchester United player ratings: The best (and worst) performers for David Moyes during the season so far
- 1 Mountain goats' miraculous escape from avalanche captured in dramatic video footage
- 2 Gurdwaras-turned-food banks: Sikh temples are catering for rise in Britain’s hungry
- 3 Kenyan politician Mike Sonko left red-faced after photoshopping himself next to Nelson Mandela
- 4 Government delays EU immigration report because it is too positive
- 5 'I'm experiencing austerity as well', says Princess Michael of Kent