Ryan Giggs believes FIFA U-17 World Cup can have huge impact on Indian football
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Ryan Giggs believes FIFA U-17 World Cup can have huge impact on Indian football

Ryan Giggs, who is in India for the second season of Premier Futsal, said that the interest generated by the FIFA U-17 World Cup will help Indian football in the long run.

fifa u17 world cup 2017 Updated: Sep 22, 2017 13:06 IST
Bihan Sengupta
Bihan Sengupta
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Ryan Giggs,FIFA U-17 World Cup,Premier Futsal
Ryan Giggs said that the FIFA U-17 World Cup can be a huge boost for football in India.(REUTERS)

“I remember the first time I saw him. He was 13 and just floated over the ground like a cocker spaniel chasing a piece of silver.” The reason why this is perhaps the most accurate description one can associate Ryan Giggs with is because even at 40, in his last game for Manchester United, the lanky midfielder would run down the flanks in a similar manner. But then, this was Sir Alex Ferguson speaking, the manager who could tell if his ward had been to a late night party simply by looking at his clean-shaven face.

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Ryan Giggs retired at 40, became Louis van Gaal’s deputy, and then stepped aside when current manager Jose Mourinho got his own set of scouts and coaches. He, however, claims he was ready to take charge. In a chat with a few journalists in Mumbai on Friday, Giggs spoke about his journey at the club, the breakaway and the football opportunities that awaits India when they host the Fifa U-17 World Cup next month.


How has the journey been? Did you ever think you would be associated with Futsal?

When I finished at Manchester United, it was quite early on in my ‘retirement’ and Futsal was a big thing. I’ve never been to India before, never played Futsal, and like I’ve had my entire life, it was a new challenge, something different and interesting.

Do you think Futsal will help promote football in India?

It’s important because in India, from what I understood in my last visit, it’s hard to get a lot of full-size pitches. And with Futsal, you neither need too much space nor a lot of players. So, I have made this reference (previously) to the kind of effect T20 had on cricket, I think Futsal can do it.

India’s hosting the U-17 World Cup next month. How do you see that impacting the game in India?

It has to capture the imagination. If the people sit down with their families and watch it, it can have a massive effect. Wales had never been to a major championship for nearly 60 years and then they went on to reach the semifinal (in Euro 2016). The impact that had on Wales as a country was huge. If India gets it right, it can only be good in the long run for football in India.

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You played alongside Wayne Rooney for a number of years. Do you stand by his decision to retire from international football?

It’s always difficult when you retire from international football. He wasn’t an automatic choice for England. When you play for 15-20 years at a big club, and then you play in the Champions League and the internationals, you don’t get any rest. I’m glad he stayed in the Premier League and him going back to his previous club I feel was the right decision.

How do you rate Manchester United’s title chances this year?

Before the season I thought it was between Man United and Manchester City because of the recruitment. I think they have the best squad. City probably have the best attacking line-up in the league, but I feel United’s squad is the best which will help them handle the league, the Euros, injuries and suspensions. The other clubs… Totthenham’s playing at Wembley, I felt would be a problem, Chelsea not recruiting like City or United, and Liverpool also, I don’t think they’ve got the goalkeeper and defenders to win a Premier League.

Ryan Giggs (R) left Manchester United after Jose Mourinho was appointed manager. (REUTERS)

But Mourinho just claimed his side is ‘second level’…

What he meant is, you see Real Madrid and Barcelona, the Messis, the Suarez’, the Iniestas and then you have Ronaldo, Bale, and they’re world class players and in a setup. What world class players do United have? David de Gea definitely, but who else after that? Potentially Pogba, potentially Lukaku. They have a number of good players though in the form of Mata, Matic and Mkhitaryan.

How did you react when Mourinho joined United?

It was a difficult decision when they decided to let Louis van Gaal go. What was the next step? Do they get a young coach in who could give the club three, four years to build something or someone who over the years has guaranteed success and got to the top quickly. So, they went for someone who’s proven. But yeah, it comes with a bit of baggage also because he doesn’t last long, but gets the job done more often than not.

After Sir Alex left, a few had thought you might take over?

I felt I was ready for the job. Obviously I know the club, the traditions of the club, so there were pluses but also I did not have the experience in coaching before. So, I wanted to do the job, I was ready but I also understand why it went down the Mourinho way.

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Would you want to join them in future?

I don’t think so, but who knows. After Mourinho, depending on how long he lasts, does he stay 3, 4, 5, 6 years which he hasn’t done before, is he successful, what’s the state of the club when he leaves; I mean there are several things that will depend on who the next appointment is.

Alex Ferguson was with United for 26 years. How did he hold on for so long?

The reason for his longevity or one of them was that he was always looking forward. He was never happy. We could win a league and he could bring 3-4 players and get rid of an equal number because he felt that was the best for the club. There were signings like Rooney and Ronaldo who didn’t necessarily bring immediate success, but he knew 2-3 years down the line he would have sustained success with them. He kept everyone on the toes. It didn’t matter if we had won the league. Our place wasn’t safe. He always kept people looking over their shoulders.

Were you ever tempted to join another club?

There was always a challenge at Manchester United. Each season defending a league or you’ve lost it and you want to get it back, and it was my club. And it was the club I supported and in my opinion the biggest club. So, for me, the only way to leave was to go down. I could have gone to a different country, sought a different challenge and could have done that but up until 40 I was still playing, playing 20-25 games in a season, winning leagues, so, I didn’t feel I required a different challenge.

First Published: Sep 15, 2017 18:10 IST