Wales captain Ryan Giggs will announce his retirement from international football later today.
The 33-year-old Manchester United winger, who recently collected a record ninth Premier League championship winners’ medal, will play his last game for Wales in Saturday’s Euro 2008 qualifier against the Czech Republic, at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.
It is understood that Giggs, who will then have played 64 times for his country, has been considering his international future since Wales were beaten 1-0 away to the Republic of Ireland in March.
That resul effectively ended the Principality’s chances of qualifying for the Euro 2008 finals in Austria and Switzerland.
Giggs is one of the most gifted players destined not to appear in the finals of the World Cup or European Championships.
The BBC reports that Wales officials learned about how Giggs was feeling a week ago when they gathered for the drawn friendly against New Zealand in Wrexham.
Now the other Welsh players, who assembled on Tuesday night at their Cardiff hotel ahead of the Czech match, have been made aware the players are now aware of Giggs’ decision.
It is a decision that will hit Wales hard. Many would argue that Giggs has been one of their best-ever players, and losing his services will deprive manager John Toshack of the Premiership quality that is in short supply among he current Welsh squad.
Toshack has made it clear that his primary objective is to qualify for the 2010 World Cup in South Afric, and although Giggs will be nearly 36 by then, his class, experience and leadership would have been significan assets in the qualification bid.
A source at the FA of Wales suggested, however, that “Maybe Ryan has come to accept that the chances of qualification for Euro 2008 are all but gone.
“It is a great shame, he has been an outstanding servant to Welsh football and since being made captain under John Toshack, he has been a major influence on the young players.”
Like other top Welsh players before him, Giggs appears to have accepted that he will never play in a major finals, Wales’s last participation in such an event being at the 1958 World Cup in Sweden.
The likes of Ian Rush, Neville Southall, Mark Hughes, Kevin Ratcliffe and Toshack himself have all been denied a top international stage because of the constraints faced by many smaller nations in terms of a limited pool of players from which to select.
Giggs made his debut for Wales against West Germany in October 1991 aged 17 years and 321 days. At the time he was the youngest-ever Wales international.
But with Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson frequently withdrawing the player from Wales squads because of the player’s troublesome hamstring, it was not until Toshack took over as national boss three years ago that Giggs played an away friendly for Wales.
Under Toshack, as captain, Giggs has helped a number of young players make the step up to international football.
But his decision to quit the international scene should help to extend his club career at United.