Giggs finally set for international stage

At the age of 38, Ryan Giggs is someone who has never let his elder years interfere with his love of football. As the countdown towards the 2012/2013 season begins with the completion of this summer’s European Championships, the Welshman is looking forward to the forthcoming season, his 22nd for Manchester United, as much as he ever has done.

But before he can fully focus his mind on helping Manchester United claim back the Premier League trophy off city rivals Manchester City, Giggs will be preoccupied by a rather unique occasion, both for him and for Great Britain.

For the first time since 1974, there will be a Team GB squad participating in the football at this summer’s Olympic Games in London, and Giggs has been selected by head coach Stuart Pearce to be a part of his 18 man squad. Whilst it remains uncertain whether a Team GB football team can be maintained and is sustainable beyond the Games in London, it is indisputable that Ryan Giggs deserves to be a part of this rare opportunity.

Giggs had grown to accept that playing at football’s most elite table was something that would forever elude him. As the continent’s top players have done battle over the past three weeks in Ukraine and Poland, Giggs has once again been forced to watch on from a distance. Upon his retirement from international football in 2007, it was said, and rarely doubted, that Giggs is the greatest modern day player never to play at the finals of a major tournament. He is heralded in the same category as the likes of George Best from Northern Ireland and Ian Rush from Wales who, like Giggs, were brilliant footballers that international football left behind. That is until now.

Giggs will finally be playing at an international tournament, and will do so alongside a youthful generation of players still with opportunistic futures ahead of them. Olympic rules state that only three of the eighteen man squad can be over the age of 23, and with the surprise omission of David Beckham from the squad, Giggs has a vast footballing experience that, perhaps with the exception of fellow Welshman Craig Bellamy, no one else in the squad can emulate. The shock exclusion of Beckham has inevitably dominated the coverage, but no one is questioning the decision to include Giggs and there is an obvious reason for that.

Ryan Giggs has had some great achievements along his illustrious career spanning three decades, lifting the Premier League trophy for Manchester United no fewer than 12 times and he is the only player who has managed to score in all 20 Premier League seasons.

A symbolic moment that sums up the career Giggs has enjoyed came when making his 900th Manchester United appearance against Norwich last season as he marked the milestone with a 90th minute winner. He has been a continuous thorn in the side of many sides throughout the entire Premier League era, terrorising defenders for over twenty years. Many will be envious of the career Giggs has had, but he too will be envious of those who have played in major tournaments.The incapabilities of the Welsh national side has ensured that Giggs has never set foot on football’s grandest occasions. So it is only fitting that Giggs has been granted the opportunity to participate in sport’s greatest spectacle.

This isn’t to imply that Giggs has only been selected purely for sentimental and sympathetic reasons. The surprise omission of David Beckham, a decision which has divided public opinion, indicates that Stuart Pearce isn’t interested in picking players based on past successes and personalities, and instead is only focussed on those whose current ability merits a place in the squad.

Ryan Giggs’ current ability certainly warrants an inclusion and he will be an unquestionably beneficial inclusion to Team GB as they hope for victory upon home soil His form for Manchester United last season was of the highest standard, right up there with the best midfielders in the Premier League, disbanding any myth that he is set for retirement. Giggs continues to defy his age, and could well add another prestigious honour to his list of achievements this summer.

Admittedly, the quality of football at the Olympics isn’t up to the same standards as we have become used to at the Euros and World Cups, but this will matter not a jot to the Welshman. At long last, Giggs will be playing in an international tournament.

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