Ryan Giggs is one of the greatest Welsh footballers of all time.
The tricky winger played for Manchester United for nearly 25 years, racking up over 900 appearances and winning a record 13 Premier League titles.
He is undoubtably a legend of the game and an icon of English football. But by the Welsh fans, he is not considered one of the best players for the Welsh national team.
The main reason for this was his alleged lack of commitment toward his country. Despite being born and raised in Cardiff before moving to Manchester as a teen, he always seemed to put his club before his country.
It has been argued that he would miss Wales games to stay fresher for Manchester United. This was rumoured to have been decreed by Sir Alex Ferguson, although no proof for this has ever been found.
The question remains though – did Ryan Giggs skip Wales matches during his time as an International Footballer.
Did Ryan Giggs Miss Wales Matches?
It appears that Ryan Giggs did miss Wales matches during the peak of his career, and was not as committed to his country as other big stars were.
Shockingly, the myth does seem to be true. Ryan Giggs did not play a friendly match for Wales in the entirety of the 1990s.
From his debut for Wales against Germany, he did not play a single friendly for his country for nearly a decade.
Between 1991 and 2000, Ryan Giggs missed every friendly match for Wales, totally 16 matches. While you may argue that the winger was consistently injured, that looks to be untrue.
According to TransferMarkt, Ryan Giggs only suffered one injury that caused him to miss game time for Manchester United.
This was a contused laceration, which forced him to miss 33 days of action in late 1994. This made him miss matches against Georgia and Bulgaria, both Euro 1996 qualifiers and thus not friendly matches.
Ryan Giggs won 64 caps for Wales during his career. This does not even put him in the top 10 most capped players for Wales, despite a Manchester United career that lasted from ages 17 to 41.
In fact, he retired from the Welsh National Team in 2007, when he was just 34. He went on to play another 7 years for United, so it stands to reason that he could have committed to Wales until retirement, like Gareth Bale did until 2023.
Ryan Giggs missed 30 out of 40 possible friendlies, including the aforementioned lack of matches in the 1990s. Had he not retired for Wales early and played the maximum amount of friendlies for his country, it’s likely he would have been the first Wales player to reach 100 caps.
Sir Alex Ferguson Stopped Ryan Giggs Playing For Wales
While it can never be proved, former Manchester United and Wales player Clayton Blackmore has revealed that it was Sir Alex Ferguson who stopped Ryan Giggs playing for Wales.
The Premier League winner spoke in 2018 about the issue. Blackmore revealed that it wasn’t Giggs’ fault for missing 30 friendlies for his country.
He revealed that Ferguson would be happy to let Blackmore and Mark Hughes (former Manchester United and Wales striker) leave United for Internation duty, but would not give a young Ryan Giggs the same courtesy.
Speaking to BBC Sport Wales, Clayton Blackmore said;
“I need to put something to rest that everybody is going on about, ‘he [Ryan Giggs] didn’t turn up for friendlies. He didn’t have much choice with that.”
“I was there when Sir Alex told me and Mark Hughes ‘yous two can go, but Ryan’s not going’ because he’s got to look after him. He was a young lad and in friendlies you never use him.
“We were happy with that. We needed him for the big tournament games.”
Unfortunately, friendly games are a great time for teams to bond and grow chemistry on the pitch.
It’s impossible to say if Ryan Giggs playing those friendlies would have resulted in Wales qualifying for a major international tournament. However, having him on the left wing during friendlies would have helped the team in those matches, helping to grow confidence for the qualifiers that they struggled with over the years.
What do you think about Ryan Giggs missing so many games for Wales, while still playing for Manchester United into his 40s? Let us know what you think about the sit