Comment: Gareth Bale has Wales edge over Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs

Gareth Bale has managed to succeed where former Welsh star Ryan Giggs botched and lead Wales into their first major finals in 57 years, the 2016 European championship in France.

The Welsh, whose last major tournament involvement was at the 1958 World Cup in Sweden, clinched second place in Group H with a match to spare despite going down to their first defeat, 2-0 in Bosnia last Saturday.

Bale was in influential form throughout the qualifying campaign and carried the Welsh hopes with an impressive goal return of seven, completing 897 minutes out of Wales’s ten qualifying games.

And the most expensive man in world football could not hide his delight after clinching qualification.

“This was a dream of mine and we’ve done it,” he said.

“As you can see everyone is delighted.

“This is right up there in my career.

“It was a dream from when I was a small child to play in a major tournament. It doesn’t stop here, we have business to do in France.”

A host of world class players have gone through their careers without playing in a major international tournament, with Giggs, arguably the most coveted domestic footballer to have graced the English game, one of the unfortunate stars to fall into that bracket.

The closest Giggs got to reaching a major competition for Wales was under Mark Hughes in 2003 when the Welsh were ousted by Russia in a two-legged playoff to reach the 2004 European Championships.

Bale and Giggs are arguably the two biggest stars to come out of Wales, but they only played together three times before the Manchester United legend called time on his international career to aid his longevity at club level.

Since that retirement Bale has become the torchbearer of Welsh football and has had to deal with the added pressure of being the country’s superstar.

Giggs made his international bow at the age of 17 back in 1991 against Germany, scoring his first goal for Wales against Belgium in a 1993 World Cup qualifier.

However the former Tottenham Hotspur man poses a superior record than his role model.

Bale announced himself on the international stage against Trinidad and Tobago in May 2006, coming on as a 16-year-old substitute to produce a match-winning assist.

In the same calendar year Bale became the youngest player to score for the full Wales national team after scoring a free-kick against Slovakia.

Although Giggs currently possesses more international caps (64), the Real Madrid superstar has already amassed a total of 54 at the age of 26, with Giggs’ reluctance to play in international friendlies which hindered his mediocre cap return.

After his debut against Germany back in 1991, Giggs went on to miss 18 consecutive friendly games, revealing that him and Sir Alex Ferguson would dissect the international calendar, cancelling out non-competitive fixtures.

Bale on the other hand even after securing qualification was eager to represent his country against minnows Andorra in a dead rubber, when he could easily have requested a rest and put Real Madrid first.

The Galactico has already scored more goals than Louis van Gaal’s assistant in a Wales jersey, with Giggs netting for Wales on 12 occasions, compared to Bale, who’s already conjured up 19 goals for his beloved country.

The Southampton academy product will be setting his sights on Ian Rush who currently holds the goalscoring record with 28.

There is no denying that Ryan Giggs had an unbelievable career and his credentials at club level are admirable, but his achievements at international level were nothing in comparison.

When he sees Bale carrying the hopes of his nation on his shoulders, Giggs could well look on with some envy and regret to the way he committed himself to the Welsh cause. 

Image courtesy of Sky Sports, via Youtube, with thanks

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