Ryan Giggs: Cymru - Chapter 5: The Dragon Roars
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 5 – The Dragon Roars
The fifth and final episode moves behind the scenes as the EURO 2020 qualifying campaign culminates with two must-win games away to Azerbaijan and the visit of Hungary to the Cardiff City Stadium. With qualification now in Cymru's own hands, the tension and excitement completes a remarkable turnaround from just a few months before when everything seemed lost.
“They're huge games and we need to win the two games,” explained Giggs. “We're in good form and we've got the momentum.” There was a welcome return to the squad for Aaron Ramsey from injury, with the Juventus midfielder yet to kick a ball in the campaign. “The team is in good shape at the moment,” Giggs added. “I'm confident.”
'The Art of the Wales Shirt' exhibition at St. Fagans National Museum of History opens the episode, with Ben Davies picking out his favourites from the historic collection. The squad then head to Baku to prepare for the crucial match against Azerbaijan. The confident mood in the camp is reflected in the candid footage as the team go through their training drills on the eve of the match, with the competitive nature showing the strong bond that clearly exists within the group.
“The result was the priority,” said Giggs with business taken care of in Azerbaijan. “But I was also pleased with the performance. We've done all that we can do.” With results elsewhere going in Cymru's favour, attentions quickly switched to the decisive match against Hungary in Cardiff. A win would guarantee the side a place at the EURO 2020 finals.
“Since our last loss to Hungary we haven't lost and we've been on that upward trajectory,” explained Gareth Bale on the eve of the match. “The confidence is there and the football is really good, and we just have to keep riding that wave. We know how big a game it is and we will to be ready to give a big performance. We want the Welsh fans to be the same as always supporting us, to sing and be the twelfth man, and do what they always do. We always appreciate their support in every game.”
Prior to the match, Joe Allen and Ben Davies share their thoughts on the power of the national anthem on them as individuals and the importance of the rousing rendition that takes place before each international fixture. The sentiments are echoed by Giggs as he talks about the influence it has on the opposition and how it sets the tone before kick-off. 'Mae Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau' is then sang by the Red Wall prior to the match that will decide if Cymru can achieve their qualification dream.
The emotional scenes at the final whistle do not require words, and as the camera moves into the changing room post-match, nobody can doubt just what representing their country means to this squad of players. But there is more to international management than the fine margins between success and failure on the field, and the final episode ends with Giggs touring schools and junior teams around the country, again showing the unseen side of the man that has made this documentary such a must-watch.