Ryan Giggs discusses having his son at United's Academy
Six Manchester United legends returned to Old Trafford for the launch of adidas' Ninety-Two shoe and took part in a Q&A session with Rachel Riley. Seated alongside his former team-mates David Beckham, Gary Neville, Phil Neville, Nicky Butt and Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs spoke with passion about his upbringing at Manchester United and how his son is enjoying life in the Academy…
What was it like being back at The Cliff?
Me and Nicky go back twice a week because our kids are there in the Academy, so we go back quite often, and obviously Nicky’s here with the Academy too. But when you go back as a group, it’s always special because that’s where we spent most of our youth. From leaving school, being an apprentice, there are so many happy memories. And like Becks says, it wasn’t just us. It was seeing your heroes for the first time, walking into the canteen and being sat two tables away from Mark Hughes and Bryan Robson – players that were your heroes. And there we were having sausage and mash – it wasn’t pasta in those days – and chocolate pudding with sauce, and that’s what it was like. It was the biggest club in the world but also had that family atmosphere.
It’s been a while since you were youths at the Academy…
It’s not changed a lot actually, has it? They need to spend a few more bob on it. But that is actually the great thing about The Cliff – when you go through those gates you can feel the history! So many great players have played on the pitches and the indoor pitches. It’s where we spent most of our youth.
Is it hard to keep your children as hungry to get that success, because you are their dad?
It is difficult, yeah. I used to get the no.26 bus and jump over the fence at the Stretford End to watch games. They get driven in a nice car and get to sit in the directors' box, so it’s a little bit different.
Do you make them clean your boots or anything?
No, no. It’s great when you can take your kids to watch United because we’re all big United fans and our kids are too. We were there last week for the Tottenham game and it was brilliant, they loved it. I still remember when I was nine, 10 and 11 watching United and they’re great memories.
You’ve had so many moments in the dressing room - which ones stand out the most?
We were talking about this before. No one particular game comes to my mind, it was just the big wins, the Champions League wins, where we came in and were all celebrating, or a couple of last-minute goals to win the game. That was when the changing room was really buzzing, that was when everyone was enjoying it. And then the flipside, the ones when you got a dressing down, got a telling off from the manager, they’re the ones that really stick in my mind a lot more than actually celebrating. But we had some great times, because you do when you win a big game. You can’t wait to get back in the dressing room and celebrate with the lads.
Does this adidas blue kit from 1992 bring back good memories?
It brings back good memories for me because this was the kit that I wore when I won my first trophy – the League Cup against Nottingham Forest in ’92. It’s a bit strange because I think, if you’d have brought this out 10 years ago, people would have thought it is horrible, but it’s sort of come back in style. I think we look good. It’s come back – a real retro look. This particular top is special for me.
How did you use your experiences as a player in those roles as both a coach and manager?
When I was manager, we got beaten against Sunderland and I thought: ‘I’m not having that, you didn’t perform, so I’m going to bring in some players who will perform’ and it just happened to be James Wilson who went on to score a couple of goals in the next game. That’s just the mentality of the club really, that’s the history of the club. You always give young players a chance. They’ve all got ability but you never know how they’ll be on that pitch in the first team. Some sink, but most of the time they flourish because that’s where they want to be, that’s why they become footballers – to play in that first team. And that’s the easy bit, getting there – the hardest bit is staying there.
What’s your stand-out memory?
The best moment I’ve ever had on a football pitch was when that final whistle went at the Nou Camp [in 1999] and I actually did cry. It’s the only time I have cried on a football pitch because the emotions just took over.