Giggs & 4 other Welshmen named in Team GB
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Ryan Giggs and Craig Bellmay head a list of five Welsh players officially named in Team GB's Olympic football team for London 2012.
Team GB boss Stuart Pearce opted for the experienced Welsh duo as two of his three over-23 picks for the tournament, with Manchester City defender Micah Richards a surprise third choice ahead of David Beckham.
Giggs and Bellamy are joined in the squad by Wales captain Aaron Ramsey and Swansea City duo Joe Allen and Neil Taylor.
Swansea City winger Scott Sinclair is another who makes the squad, as does Tottenham defender Steven Caulker, who enjoyed a successful loan spell at the Liberty Satdium last season.
The inclusion of Sinclair, Allen and Taylor means Swansea have more representatives than any other British team.
Giggs, 38, last played for Wales in 2007 before announcing his retirement from the international stage following a 16-year Wales career.
Bellamy, meanwhile, is still part of Chris Coleman's Wales set-up after agreeing to coninue his international career in a bid to help Wales' bid for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
The current Welsh stars' involvement will alarm FA of Wales officials who remain staunchly opposed to the Team GB ethos, even as a one-off at London 2012.
That is not an issue the FAs of Scotland and Northern Ireland will have to face after only Welsh or English players were selected in the final 18-man squad.
Pearce said: “It has not been an easy task to finalise my squad for this tournament, and the stature of the competition and uniqueness of the occasion has underlined the importance of every choice I have made.
“With just 18 places it is very different from other international tournaments, the options are limited, but it is the Olympic Games and every player in this squad should be very proud they have a chance to compete for a gold medal on home soil.
“I remember the huge advantage we gained from playing in front of our own fans during Euro 96, and I’m sure with the nation behind us it could be a fantastic tournament for us.”
London 2012 will be the first time that Team GB have competed in the men’s football competition since the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome, where they finished third in their group. Team GB kick off their campaign at Manchester’s Old Trafford against Senegal on July 26, play the United Arab Emirates at Wembley on July 29, before their final group fixture against Uruguay at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium on August 1.
Team GB chef de mission Andy Hunt said: “After a 52-year absence from the Olympic Games, it is fantastic to welcome the men’s football squad to Team GB for London 2012. Representing your country at the Olympic Games is a very unique, special experience and I am sure this talented and determined group of men’s footballers will play a full part as members of Team GB at our home Olympic Games.
“The squad selected possesses a good blend of youth and experience, with 16 of the 18 selected athletes playing their football at the very highest level in the Premier League last season. In Stuart Pearce they have an experienced and passionate manager and I am sure the younger players will learn a lot from their time with Team GB at the Olympic Games.
“Football fans from the across the UK are regarded worldwide as among the most passionate and knowledgeable supporters in the world and this summer offers a unique opportunity to get behind Team GB on home soil. I am confident that this famous vocal support will drive the young players on to produce many memorable and inspirational performances at the Olympic Games this summer.”
Wales would have had a sixth player in the final 18-man Team GB squad but Spurs flyer Gareth Bale has been ruled out with a back injury.
Bale is said to have damaged an old problem while running and is reluctant to risk aggravating the problem further, with Tottenham’s Premier League opener at Newcastle just seven weeks away.
Full Team GB squad
- Jack Butland (Birmingham/England Under 21) 19
- Jason Steele (Middlesbrough/England Under 21) 21
- Ryan Bertrand (Chelsea/England Under 21) 22
- Steven Caulker (Tottenham/England Under 21) 20
- Craig Dawson (West Brom/England Under 21) 22
- Micah Richards (Manchester City/England) 24
- Danny Rose (Tottenham/England Under 21) 22
- Neil Taylor (Swansea/Wales) 23
- James Tomkins (West Ham/England Under 21) 23
- Joe Allen (Swansea/Wales) 22
- Tom Cleverly (Manchester Utd/England Under 21) 22
- Jack Cork (Southampton/England Under 21) 23
- Ryan Giggs (Manchester United/Wales) 38
- Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal/Wales) 21
- Craig Bellamy (Liverpool/Wales) 32
- Scott Sinclair (Swansea/England Under 21) 23
- Marvin Sordell (Bolton/England Under 21) 21
- Daniel Sturridge (Chelsea/England) 22