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 Posted by ESPN Staff
May 19, 2006

Skipper Giggs commits to Wales for the long-term

Manchester United star Ryan Giggs has swept away any doubts about his long-term commitment to Wales.

When Giggs was given the captaincy of his country by boss John Toshack, who was then new to the job, the cynics wrote that off as a gimmick to keep him involved while players allied to former boss Mark Hughes were walking away in their droves.

Giggs was certainly under pressure to join the exodus in an acrimonious changeover of power when Toshack arrived.

But Giggs, who will skipper Wales in Bilbao against the Basque National side on Sunday, is still involved with his country.

He said: 'It's fair to say I'm here for the long haul, I want my country to succeed.

'You are always going to get people supporting you or against you, but I have tried to keep away from all that. People have asked me questions about things, but all I have done is avoid them.

'There have been changes, sure, but I have been around a long time and seen it all really. Nothing surprises me and you just have to handle it.'

He added: 'I have enjoyed being captain, but it is something I have done from a very young age really. It is not as new to me as people think.

'I was captain of Salford Schools, then Manchester United's youth team and I have captained the senior side many times.

'When I did first get into the side at Old Trafford there have been some pretty special captains to work under.'

Giggs is backing Toshack's tenure and is involved in a low-key two-game summer trip, unlike many who had previously shunned such internationals.

But the 32-year-old Giggs is not doing that as any sort of opposition to the previous Wales regime.

He has been the ultimate professional, father figure, inspiration and even union rep for a young brood of Welsh players who must make him feel more ancient every time he joins up with his country.

There are 16 and 17-year-old players now involved with the Wales squad.

And if there was any need for a further statement of intent for the forthcoming Euro 2008 qualifiers and the next World Cup campaign, it is that Giggs plays in an away friendly for his country for the first time.

His withdrawals from anything but qualifiers were legendary. But Giggs will be there in Bilbao's San Mames Stadium, without even a cap to win for a game not officially a full international.

Giggs spent time this week at the Welsh team HQ outside Cardiff negotiating the bonuses for next season's Euro ties, and then had to nurse 16-year-old Gareth Bale and 17-year-old Lewin Nyatanga through training with their more senior colleagues.

Giggs said: 'I have learned from all my captains. Steve Bruce, Bryan Robson and Roy Keane have all been very vocal, and Eric Cantona just led by example.

'And for Wales, Gary Speed was a fine captain, also very vocal, and hopefully I have learned something from all of them.

'My way is to try to set an example. To try to keep people calm on the pitch and in the dressing room, I'm not a shouter but I would hope that the way I carry myself generally is that example.

'Not just on the pitch, but around the hotel, around the squad, how I prepare and how I train. And maybe I am suited to being a captain.

'Probably my best performances for Wales have come when I have had the armband, there is a responsibility that I enjoy and can accept.'

Giggs said: 'I'm no Tony Adams, with his force of character. And there's no kicking doors and screaming like you get from some captains, I want to lead by example.

'I would hope that the younger players would maybe study the way the seniors work, the way I prepare for matches, and learn from it. There are lots of little things you do that help in the long run.

'It is fair to say that I am in this for the long haul, I want to see my country succeed. We are doing it now with more younger players, that's the way it is.

'I've also been doing the discussions with the FAW over the bonuses and things ahead of the Euro qualifiers, that means meeting David Collins, the secretary general.

'But it is something I am used to because I have been involved in how the Manchester United players' pool operates and those discussions, so it is nothing daunting.'