Man United’s Ryan Giggs honoured to captain Team GB at London 2012
Manchester United's Ryan Giggs says captaining Team GB is an "equal honour" to skippering the Red Devils and Wales
Two Champions League triumphs, 12 league titles and four times an FA Cup winner – Ryan Giggs has a bigger trophy cabinet than most clubs.
But, he claims, captaining Great Britain in their first Olympic campaign in 52 years is right up there in his sizable list of achievements.
Team GB goalkeeper Jack Butland wasn’t even born when Giggs made his debut at Old Trafford but Stuart Pearce claimed the decision to appoint the 38-year old Manchester United midfielder was the ‘easiest of his career’.
“It’s as equal an honour as captaining Manchester United and Wales,” insisted Giggs.
“It’s just tremendous to captain Great Britain in an Olympics on home turf. It’s an incredible honour and one that I’m looking forward to so much and couldn’t let pass by.
“It’s just an experience that I never thought would happen, especially since retiring from Wales, and that will always be a disappointment in my career – that I didn’t manage to get to a tournament with Wales.”
Sir Alex Ferguson has been less than complimentary about impact of Olympic football on an already crowded schedule, with the men’s gold medal match scheduled for August 11 at Wembley, one week before United’s Premier League opener at Goodison.
But Giggs insisted there was never any doubt he would be involved once he got the call-up from Pearce.
“Sir Alex has supported me right from the start,” he added.
“He’s wanted me to be involved and I’m really thankful for that. He wants us to do well and he wants me to do well, both personally and the team. I’ve got the full backing of the boss.”
Team GB side will spend the next week training before a behind-closed-doors match with Mexico and a friendly with gold medal favourites Brazil at Middlesbrough’s Riverside on July 20, which should be an interesting indication of their Olympic intent.
Brazil have named a strong London 2012 squad filled with attacking stars including Santos striker Neymar, who has previously been linked to Manchester United, Porto’s Hulk and AC Milan’s Alexandre Pato.
“I’ve not seen much of Neymar, but the Brazilian lads at our place rave on about him,” added Giggs.
“I’ve seen clips and they’re looking at him as the man to light up Rio at the next World Cup. Brazil, Spain and Uruguay have all picked marquee players and these teams are obviously taking it very seriously and want to win it, just like us.
“It’s like a mini-World Cup, with the players involved in this one, and the likes of Messi and Ronaldo in the past. It’s obviously an experience that a lot of players have loved and it’s obviously an even better experience if you win it.”
Giggs and the 18-strong squad, 15 of which are under the age of 23, spent time on Sunday collecting their Olympic kit from Team GB’s preparation camp in Loughborough.
It’s an experience that leaves even established Olympians wide-eyed, although millionaire footballers are a little more accustomed to being given enough free stuff to fill a small sports shop three times over.
While they were formally joining Team GB, David Beckham, overlooked for selection, was down in London, cheering on friend Andy Murray in the Wimbledon final at the All England Club.
But Giggs, a close friend of Beckham, is determined the talk should now stop being about who is not there and focus on who is.
“Stuart Pearce is like all of us – he wants to win and he’s picked the best players available to do that,” he insisted.
“Only time will tell if he is correct. There’s a lot of talented players in the squad and a lot of experience with the three over-age players, but even with the younger players, it’s a strong team.”
© Sportsbeat 2012