Mention the name of Sir Bobby Charlton anywhere in the world and what’s the first thing that comes to mind? England 1966? World Cup Winner? The odds are that it will be neither because Charlton has been the face of the global Manchester United brand for years. As much as we all want him to stay around for many more, the great man will turn 73 in October and it’s only a matter of time before he will need to be replaced by a new club icon. So who could be a better choice than Ryan Giggs, a one club legend who is likely to end his glorious career at the age of 37? It’s therefore disappointing to see speculation that Giggs could end up spending his retirement in the United States.
Although highly unlikely, the Welsh wizard did not discount the possibility telling USA Today that “Being in America you have a great lifestyle, good for raising a family.” Giggs and his wife Stacey have two children under the age of seven so it’s only natural that their future is top of his priorities but football remains very important. Talking about the game in America he said “The play is getting better. I still have a year left with
Manchester United. After that maybe, maybe I’ll be too old.”
United has not toured America for six years and Giggs believes that there’s a rapid improvement in the game. “MLS has grown and the success of the USA in the World Cup can only have helped football” he said “American fans are great and we’re happy to be coming back.” The signing of David Beckham by the LA Galaxy gave the MLS’ profile a huge boost in his opinion “Becks is probably the biggest footballer worldwide” Giggs said “and he’s still playing for England’s national team so it’s hard not to respect the quality of MLS.”
Talking about his approaching retirement Giggs confessed that “The older you get the more you appreciate what you’ve got. With each season I’ve come to appreciate it more, I’ve enjoyed it more and I think it shows in the way you play. You play knowing you may be done soon.” Being on the last year of his contract at Old Trafford, it’s possible that Giggs may be tempted to follow the likes of Beckham and possibly Thierry Henry in the MLS.
Having devoted all his football years to Manchester United, Giggs is of course entitled to spend his retirement in any way he sees fit. In recent years he has become a UNICEF representative, launching a campaign in 2002 to prevent landmines from killing children. Giggs visited UNICEF projects in Thailand and told the BBC “As a footballer I can’t imagine life without the use of one of my legs. Sadly this is exactly what happens to thousands of children every year when they accidentally step on a landmine.”
Giggs may even consider following the example of many of his former team mates by eventually going into football management but if that is not on his radar, Manchester United can hardly find anyone better suited than Giggs to follow Sir Bobby as an ambassador for a club that he has represented so well, for so long.
Is there a better ambassador for Manchester United than Ryan Giggs?