London 2012

Ryan Giggs

When Paul Bodin fired his penalty against the bar for Wales against Romania in November 1993, Welsh hopes of reaching the following year's World Cup were effectively over. Ryan Giggs was still a teenager that evening but already a player of vast talent with a lengthy career ahead of him. Even so, many of his team-mates suspected Wales would never have such a good chance to reach a World Cup and nearly 20 years on it would seem they were right.

Fascinating facts:

  • Ryan Giggs has made an astonishing 973 appearances for Manchester United and Wales.
  • Craig Bellamy is the only one of Giggs' 17 GB team-mates who had turned three-years-old when the Manchester United man made his professional debut.
  • Fellow squad members Jack Butland and Steven Caulker were not even born when Giggs scored the winner in his first Manchester derby in May 1991.

But this summer's London Olympics has handed Giggs an unexpected opportunity to finally play in a major international tournament. At the age of 38, the Manchester United midfielder has been named as an over-age player in Stuart Pearce's Great Britain squad and awarded the captain's armband. It's an amazing feat that he is even in contention.

And there is more to this selection than mere sentiment. Giggs is still doing it. Last season, for the 21st campaign in a row, he played more than 30 games for the Red Devils and scored four goals. In total, it was the 22nd league season he had found the net for Sir Alex Ferguson's side.

His style has changed considerably in that time. The flying winger with the darting dribbles may be a thing of the past but Giggs is now a mature midfielder, controlling possession in the centre of the pitch; dictating when the time is right to keep the ball and when that decisive through-ball is on.

Giggs will provide a calming influence on the youngsters around him and doubtless act as an inspiration for players such as fellow midfielder Joe Allen who cannot remember a time when his compatriot was not a force in the game.

And who knows, maybe a career that looked destined to end without him appearing at a major tournament could instead culminate in Ryan Giggs captaining Great Britain to Olympic glory on home soil.

Ryan Giggs

  • DOB: 29/11/1973
  • Event: Football
  • Club: Man Utd