Ryan Giggs and Wales friendlies: What are the actual statistics

Ryan Giggs with a Wales shirt
Ryan Giggs saw off competition from Craig Bellamy, Mark Bowen and Osian Roberts to become Wales manager

Ryan Giggs' appointment as the new Wales manager has divided fans.

The Manchester United legend took his first permanent post in management earlier this week after Chris Coleman left to take charge of Sunderland in November.

Some fans have argued that Giggs' lack of appearances in friendly games as a player means he is not committed, and never has been committed, to his country.

BBC Wales has examined the stats and the history of Giggs' Wales career.

Did Giggs play friendlies?

Ryan Giggs record

During his international playing career Giggs won 64 caps between his debut against Germany in 1991 European Championship qualifier and his final appearance in 2007.

In that time, Giggs missed 30 out of 40 possible friendlies, failing to make a single appearance in a friendly match from 1991 to 2000 - a total of 16 matches.

Former United team-mate Clayton Blackmore said Giggs' club manger Sir Alex Ferguson was responsible for the Welshman missing friendly games.

Blackmore said Giggs "didn't have much choice" when it came to playing in friendly matches.

Did Ferguson's plan work?

Ryan Giggs looks unhappy as Sir Alex Ferguson puts a hand on Clayton Blackmore's head in South Africa in 1993
Ryan Giggs (centre) with Sir Alex Ferguson (right) and Clayton Blackmore (left) in South Africa in 1993

Of the 30 friendlies Giggs missed, 10 would not have interfered with his club career. However, 20 were played days before a Manchester United fixture.

Of those 20 games, Giggs featured in 85% of games for United, starting in 15 and making a further two appearances off the bench.

On only three occasions did Giggs not play in a Wales friendly game and then not play for Manchester United.

So was Ferguson right to stop Giggs from playing friendly games and did he have evidence to back up his protection?

Giggs only once played in a Wales friendly and then missed the following game for Manchester United. On that occasion, he was rested against West Ham before a Champions League game against Real Madrid the following Tuesday.

You can find the full list at the bottom of the page.

Ryan Giggs' record

How does this compare?

Blackmore said that while Ferguson was keeping Giggs wrapped up in cotton wool, he and Mark Hughes had the chance to play in friendlies.

But former Stoke City manager Hughes made only eight more appearances for Wales than Giggs over a similar period of time.

Dean Saunders won 75 caps for Wales over 15 years between 1986 and 2001, including 27 friendlies - nine of which came during Giggs' years of absence between 1991 and 2000.

In total, 62% of Saunders' appearances for his country came in competitive games, compared to 84.4% for Giggs.

Mark Hughes and Sir Alex Ferguson at QPR
Mark Hughes was a rival manager to Sir Alex Ferguson when QPR visited Old Trafford in April 2012

But how does Giggs compare to Wales' current superstar Gareth Bale.

Real Madrid forward Bale has played just 26 minutes of Wales' past seven friendly matches and 53 of his 68 caps have come in competitive games - 77.95%.

So, while Giggs' record of turning up for friendlies is not as impressive as some of his contemporaries, it is certainly comparable to that of Bale.

What about his competitive record?

Another accusation thrown at Giggs is he did not deliver enough for Wales in the biggest games, with arguments particularly that he did not score enough goals.

Giggs played 963 games for United, scoring 168 goals, meaning he averaged a goal for United every 5.7 games.

While for Wales he scored 12 in 64 appearances, meaning an average of a goal every 5.3 games - a goal record actually better for his country than club.

Giggs also produced some stand-out performances over the years, against Germany and Belgium at Cardiff Arms Park, and especially against Finland and Italy in games staged at the Millennium Stadium.

He also did so at a time when the common perception was that if you stop Giggs, you stop Wales and he was often marked by two or even three players.

So while Giggs undoubtedly missed a lot of friendly matches, his record is actually comparable to that of Bale and considering the 'Fergie factor' and club career Giggs had, not to mention the relative strength of his Wales era compared to now, is the criticism of him really merited?

Have your say in the comments section below.

Wales friendly matches during Ryan Giggs' international career
OpponentDid Giggs play?DateFollowing United game
Republic of IrelandNoFebruary, 1992Giggs started
AustriaNoApril, 1992Giggs started
NetherlandsNo May, 1992No United game
Republic of IrelandNoFebruary, 1993Giggs started
NorwayNoMarch, 1994Giggs started
Sweden NoApril, 1994Giggs a used substitute
EstoniaNo May, 1994No United game
ItalyNo January, 1996Giggs started
SwitzerlandNo April, 1996Giggs started
Republic of Ireland No February, 1997Giggs started
ScotlandNo May, 1997No United game
BrazilNoNovember, 1997Giggs started
JamaicaNo March, 1998No, he was injured
Malta NoJune, 1998No United game
TunisiaNoJune, 1998No United game
QatarNoFebruary, 2000Giggs started
FinlandYesMarch, 2000No, he was rested
BrazilNoMay, 2000No United game
PortugalNoJune, 2000No United game
ArgentinaYesFebruary, 2001Giggs started
Czech RepublicNoMarch, 2002Giggs started
GermanyYesMay, 2002No United game
CroatiaNoAugust, 2002Giggs started
Bosnia & HerzegovinaNoFebruary, 2003Giggs started
USANoMay, 2003No United game
ScotlandYesFebruary, 2004Giggs started
HungaryNoMarch, 2004Giggs started
NorwayNo May, 2004No United game
CanadaYesMay, 2004No United game
LatviaNoAugust, 2004Giggs started
HungaryNoFebruary, 2005Giggs a used substitute
SloveniaNoAugust, 2005No, he was injured
CyprusNoNovember, 2005No, he was injured
ParaguayYesMarch, 2006Giggs started
Trinidad & TobagoNo May, 2006No United game
BulgariaYesAugust, 2006Giggs started
BrazilYesSeptember, 2006Giggs started
LiechtensteinYesNovember, 2006Giggs started
Northern Ireland No (but travelled)February, 2007Giggs started
New ZealandYesMay, 2007No United game

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