By most accounts, Ryan Giggs is the best British soccer player of his generation. He's won a host of individual and team awards, but there is one glaring omission from his glittering resume.
Giggs has never played at a major international tournament. The Manchester United icon represented Wales from 1991-2007, but the Welsh were unable to qualify for the FIFA World Cup or UEFA European Championship during Giggs' international career.
With the Olympic Summer Games just around the corner, Giggs is itching to take the field for the Great Britain Olympic football team — or "Team GB." The 38-year-old is relishing the opportunity to finally strut his stuff in a tournament setting, according to the Mirror.
"Not playing in a major tournament would have been a missing piece in my career, had I not had this chance, no doubt," Giggs said. "My career for my country has been the total opposite to my club career –- I've been so successful with United but not so with Wales.
"I would always watch the other lads, especially those I grew up with, Becks [David Beckham], Butty [Nicky Butt], Nev [Gary Neville], Scholesy [Paul Scholes], go away to international tournaments and I would wish that I could do the same.
"Unfortunately, I never got the chance. But now I've got the chance and even in the first few days together I've seen things that I haven't seen in my career. It's been an eye-opener and really enjoyable as well."
Great Britain hasn't fielded a soccer team at the Olympics in 40 years, but it is aiming to win the gold medal on home soil. Giggs will lead the newly constructed team as one of its three overage players, and he thanks Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson for supporting his Olympic ambition.
"Sir Alex played a big part in my participation," said Giggs. "Right from the start, he was keen for me to be involved and he's backed me ever since really.
"He's been good and he recognises that maybe a tournament could add to what already is a pretty good career. He's been supportive all the way through my career, since I was 13 through to today."
Giggs' inclusion in the Team GB squad may have cost former United teammate David Beckham a place in the team. Beckham was under consideration, but Britain manager Stuart Pearce preferred Giggs as the overage option in the midfield.
Few would deny that Giggs' career achievements warrant special recognition, but he is not playing in the Olympics as a favor. He is out to win an international medal and plug that one gap in an otherwise storied career.