A long time coming for Ryan Giggs

Ryan Giggs finally made his entrance on the international stage yesterday against Senegal for Team GB at the Olympics. It was fitting that Giggs’ introduction, and prelude to his final bow in international football, took place at Old Trafford, and many would be citing a disappointment at not seeing Giggs much more prominently in international football over the past 20-years.

Here’s the thing: It’s disappointing and a great shame that Ronaldo never lifted the Champions League during his playing career; it’s also disappointing that The Netherlands have never managed to win the World Cup, despite possessing some of football’s greatest talents. However, should we really bow our heads and take a moment to think of Ryan Giggs missing out on international football?

This isn’t a player who only really had an opportunity in the limelight through playing for his country. Instead, this is the most decorated footballer in England. Countless Premier League trophies, Champions League wins and even more domestic cups. His career has hardly been held back due to his nationality.

There’s also been an argument that the Champions League is a better stage to witness the best football has to offer, rather than the World Cup. Indeed, Giggs has been a prominent figure in club football’s premier competition, as have those who are not likely to figure greatly at international tournaments. A better reflection of what football has to offer? Absolutely.

But as for Giggs himself, does he really hold international football in that high regard that he’d consider it a shame that he’s largely missed out throughout his career? If, for example, Giggs did play for England, the tournament appearances would be there, and he’d more than likely be one of the first names on the squad list prior to a tournament. But like with many players, specifically his club-mates at Manchester United, he’d probably be forced out of international friendlies or qualifiers by a manager who (rightly) rubbishes the notion of such disruptions during a domestic campaign.

Wayne Rooney has been pulled out of England duty on a number of occasions, so are we really supposed to feel sorry for a player who might have treated international football in a similar way? It’s hard to believe that Giggs, despite how good he was, could have had a major swing on the fortunes of England over the years. Maybe it’s best to avoid all such disappointments and embarrassments.

Giggs may be relishing this opportunity with Team GB this summer, and it’s a positive way to help close out his career. He’s captaining the side and he’s been entrusted, as one of the over-age players, to oversee the development of the younger talents. However, I doubt too many tears would have been shed had Stuart Pearce overlooked him. The Olympics are hardly held in high regard here, despite the significance it holds across South America, so the London games really just round out to a nice bonus at the end of a hugely successful club career.

In no way have we been deprived of one of the Premier League’s best performers due to his minor international career. English football and the Champions League will always be of higher priority to a majority of football fans, while tournaments such as the World Cup and European Championship caters greatly to an audience who normally would not be interested in a United League Cup semifinal against Fulham.

Ryan Giggs’ international career is more than compensated for by his trophy cabinet. And I doubt he’d trade his two Champions League medals for a jolly old outing away to a country where it’s too hot for football and where disappointment is guaranteed.