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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 May 2007, 16:10 GMT 17:10 UK
Kevin Ratcliffe on Giggs

Former Wales captain Kevin Ratcliffe
By Kevin Ratcliffe
Former Wales and Everton captain

I'm not surprised in the least that Ryan Giggs has decided to retire from international football with Wales.

I think he's realised that it's a tall order to qualify for the Euro 2008 finals.

Maybe he's realised he needs to focus on playing for Manchester United and winning another contract, playing for two or three more years rather than one year.

People might question the timing of his announcement, partway through a qualifying campaign, but sometimes you have to ask when is the right time to do it?

Ryan Giggs
You don't realise how good he is until he's not there any more

Ryan has been a great asset, especially in the last 20 or 30 games for Wales. His goal record is better in the last 20 games than it has been during the rest of his career.

He's enjoyed playing for Wales but it's just a disappointment that he's in a long line of players who haven't made it to a major championships.

He is one of the greatest players to get world acclaim but never to have played at a World Cup.

I think Ryan has realised that with the bunch of players that Wales manager John Toshack has available it's a massive order to qualify for one.

At the start of the campaign we were as weak as we have been for a number of years, we don't have and have never had that strength in depth.

We need the other players to go on to the next level, obviously without Ryan now, be playing at a higher level with the clubs that they're at.

Not having Ryan in the squad will be a loss, when you've got a player like that in the squad you can only learn from the experience that he's had.

I know he's not that vocal, that's not in Ryan's nature, but he goes out on the park and leads by example.

I had the privilege to play with him early on - his first full cap was my last cap - and it was there to see that there was something special to come through.

Early on in his career people were talking about him but actually not seeing all he could do, as he was protected by Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United and also then Wales manager Terry Yorath.

They never really pushed him that quickly, although I remember him winning his first full cap and scoring that wonderful goal against Belgium.

We've been privileged to have him playing for us and I'm sure that any other country in the world over the last decade would have liked him in their international side.

Ryan would have walked into any other side and there's not many Welshmen could have actually done that.

You'd have to rank him up there with the greatest ever Welsh players, the likes of John Charles.

606: DEBATE

You don't realise how good he is until he's not there any more.

There was criticism when he wasn't turning up for friendlies, but I'm sure that helped him win so many medals.

You don't really take too much from friendlies, as John Toshack has said, and what is a player of Ryan's calibre going to be taking from a friendly?

He was looking after his own body and he's got to do that, although I'm sure he was helped by Ferguson talking him through it.

But when you look at Ryan I'm sure that's why he's still playing at the highest level at 33.

He still looks quick; he's not as quick as he used to be but he's still quick, he's quicker than most!

And one of the reasons why is that he's been protected, he's protected his body despite the amount and the intensity of games that he's been playing.

But there's never been a question of Ryan's commitment to Wales from my side or the players' side, and anyone who has been a professional footballer would understand that.

Now he's in the position where he can concentrate on playing for Manchester United.

There's always been rumours about Ryan Giggs going here or there, this club or that club is after him, and eventually he's always signed for Manchester United.

He's playing for one of the biggest clubs in the world, so why not keep playing for the club he started with until he can no longer play.

I don't think he'd enjoy it so much if he went anywhere else, I certainly didn't enjoy it as much elsewhere as when I was at Everton.



SEE ALSO
Giggs ends international career
30 May 07 |  Internationals
Giggs retirement shocks Saunders
30 May 07 |  Internationals


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