Giggs in, Beckham out of Britain's Olympic squad
By Steve Douglas, AP - LONDON
04th July 2012 02:35 PM
Britain's first men's Olympic football squad since 1960 includes veteran Manchester United midfielder Ryan Giggs but is missing the host nation's most iconic player.
The name of former England captain David Beckham was absent from the squad of 18 players announced by the British Olympic Association on Monday.
That decision had been expected, however, after Beckham announced last Thursday that he had failed to make the cut, with the 38-year-old Giggs, Craig Bellamy and Micah Richards the three overage players summoned by head coach Stuart Pearce.
There are 13 Englishmen and five Welshmen in the squad, with no players picked from either Scotland or Northern Ireland.
Chelsea forward Daniel Sturridge, Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey and Manchester United midfielder Tom Cleverley were among the 15 Premier League players included. The other three players play for teams in the second-tier League Championship.
"It has not been an easy task to finalize my squad for this tournament, and the stature of the competition and uniqueness of the occasion has underlined the importance of every choice I have made," Pearce said in a statement.
"With just 18 places, it is very different from other international tournaments, the options are limited, but it is the Olympic Games and every player in this squad should be very proud they have a chance to compete for a gold medal on home soil."
Giggs is arguably the greatest ever Premier League player but has never played in a major tournament with Wales, making the Olympics likely to be his international swansong.
A winger-turned-central midfielder, Giggs has retired from Wales duty but in February agreed a new deal with United, tying him to the club until the summer of 2013 and into his 23rd year at Old Trafford.
Wales' current best player is Gareth Bale but he ruled himself out of contention for the Olympics because of a back injury.
Britain has not fielded an Olympic team since the Rome Games 52 years ago because football federations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland feared losing their independence within FIFA.
The world body assured the three federations that their status wouldn't be affected by participating in the 16-team competition at the London Games.
"I have never looked at their individual nationalities, I see them as a British participant and I hope that will be the case throughout our Isles," Pearce said of his player choices.
"I can't even tell you, if I'm honest, how many players in this squad are from Wales or England. They are individuals that are Olympians now."
Britain plays its opening match against Senegal at Old Trafford on July 26, faces the United Arab Emirates three days later at Wembley and Uruguay on Aug. 1 at the Millennium Stadium.
"I remember the huge advantage we gained from playing in front of our own fans during Euro 96," said former England defender Pearce, "and I'm sure with the nation behind us it could be a fantastic tournament for us."
Goalkeepers: Jack Butland (England; Birmingham), Jason Steele (England; Middlesbrough)
Defenders: Ryan Bertrand (England; Chelsea), Steven Caulker (England; Swansea), Craig Dawson (England; West Bromwich Albion), Micah Richards (England; Manchester City), Danny Rose (England; Tottenham), Neil Taylor (Wales; Swansea), James Tomkins (England; West Ham)
Midfielders: Joe Allen (Wales; Swansea), Tom Cleverley (England; Manchester United), Jack Cork (England; Southampton), Ryan Giggs (Wales; Manchester United), Aaron Ramsey (Wales; Arsenal), Scott Sinclair (England; Swansea)
Forwards: Craig Bellamy (Wales; Liverpool), Marvin Sordell (England; Bolton), Daniel Sturridge (England; Chelsea)
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