We weren't good enough, says Team GB captain Ryan Giggs after exit


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The Independent Online

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.