Ryan Giggs: Cymru - Chapter 3: Now or Never
Ryan Giggs represented Cymru on 64 occasions during his illustrious playing career. Although he enjoyed unparalleled success in the colours of Manchester United, qualifying for the finals of a major tournament with his country eluded him.
In January 2018, Giggs was appointed Cymru manager, succeeding Chris Coleman with the remit of leading the national team to UEFA EURO 2020 and the 2022 FIFA World Cup. With qualification for the EURO finals next summer confirmed, this new and exclusive behind the scenes five-part documentary reflects on the journey that Giggs has been on as the manager of the national team.
CHAPTER 3 - 'Now or Never'
The serious business of EURO 2020 qualification marked the return of international football in 2019. With the previous year spent experimenting and with tactics and personnel, the time had come for Ryan Giggs to show that his team were ready for the challenge as Slovakia arrived in Cardiff in March.
Prior to the opening qualifier, Giggs returned to Manchester United's training ground at Carrington to put his Cymru players through their paces ahead of a friendly against Trinidad & Tobago at Wrexham. An experimental side claimed a 1-0 victory, but attentions quickly turned to the opening match of Giggs' first qualifying campaign.
“It won't be easy,” explained the manager at the start of this latest episode. “It never is. We've qualified once in the last 60 years but we've got a talented group of players. The first year (as manager) I've enjoyed, and I'm really looking forward to the upcoming campaign. My job is to get Wales to the European Championships. I take that very seriously and I'm 100% committed.”
Meanwhile, talisman Gareth Bale recognised the changing dynamic of the group when he was asked about the youngsters that were pushing the senior players for a place in the Cymru team. “I'm actually the longest serving player in the team now,” said Bale. “We've got quite a lot of new players, a lot of youngsters, but it's about us oldies now giving them some advice and helping them along the way.”
The qualifying campaign would continue in June 2019 with two difficult away fixtures against Croatia and Hungary. However, the detail of the preparation was highlighted as our cameras followed the team to their warm weather training camp in Portugal at the end of the domestic season.
FAW Head of Performance Tony Strudwick takes the time to explain the key targets of the training camp and how it was designed to balance the fitness and bridge the physical gap between a group of players who had all played varying amounts of football at different levels at their respective clubs over the course of the season.
Of course, the Red Wall were also behind the team for the fixtures in Osijek and Budapest, and our cameras followed their journey as well as that of the team to show how the 'Together, Stronger' strapline that defined the team through EURO 2016 remains as strong as ever, with Giggs himself taking the time to recognise the lengths the fans had gone to in order to support the side.