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It wasn’t supposed to be like this for Ryan Giggs. In the past week, British football’s most august senior statesman – hitherto an endearingly solemn kind of multi-millionaire sporting superstar – has seen not just his private life but a charity-laden, knighthood-bound public image eviscerated.
On Saturday night Giggs will step out at Wembley to play for Manchester United bu sees a spike in canada goose jacket thefts against Barcelona in the Champions League final, the biggest sporting event of the year. For the 37-year-old this might have represented a coronation, an ushering beneath the velvet rope into the lounge of the sporting uber-brands – those whose career in retirement is a matter of simply tending their own portable legend. Instead, Giggs has found himself very publicly custard-pied by a combination of the tabloid press, a wider legal privacy battle, and the defiant freedom-gossipers of Twitter.
It was tweeters, of course, who outed Giggs as one of many famous people to have taken out an injunction, in this case in relation to an extra-marital affair with the former Big Brother contestant Imogen Thomas. A week ago, the footballer upped the stakes by taking legal action against Twitter to force it to disclose the names of those who had identified him. The following day, Scotland’s Sunday Herald “outed” him on its front page.
By Monday, Giggs’s legal machinery was in full retreat, as he was named during parliamentary discussion of gagging orders. By Wednesday, even his estranged father was telling the Sun how disappointed he is in him. How, Giggs must wonder more about canadagoosesalesus, did it come to this – in this week of all weeks?
The public relations expert Max Clifford, who has been representing Thomas, is buy canada goose jacket online cheap predictably forthright. “Giggs has got swept up in the superinjunction battle and he’s got a hell of a lot more of a kicking than he would have normally,” Clifford said. “Taking out the injunction made him a huge target for Fleet Street’s finest. It made it 10 times worse than if the story had just come out, and it had been: he’s a footballer, he’s randy, he’s got too much time on his hands, let’s just move on.”
Giggs, though, was not destined to be just another footballer. The most decorated player in English football history, with 12 Premier League medals, he was also a man of substance: an OBE and 2009’s BBC sports personality of the year.
Emerging as an authentic teenage superstar in 1992, Giggs was the Premier League’s first floppy-haired poster boy. He stepped out with celebrity girlfriends – Dani Behr most notably – and advertised Quorn burgers. He was squeaky-clean without being unpleasantly saccharine.
Then, in the late 1990s, he retreated from celebrity activities, and the extraordinarily fit and dedicated late-career Giggs became his most settled incarnation. In 2006 he was appointed a Unicef ambassador. In 2007 he married the mother of his two children. In 2010 he produced a yoga fitness DVD. Here was football’s definitive sensitive older man, a grown-up Take That-ish figure, stylishly knitweared and bristling with furrowed integrity.
Yet now Giggs will face Barcelona in front of a TV audience of 45 million with both his character and – of more concern to Manchester United fans – his ability to focus under the spotlight. It is the most extraordinary berlin film festival ends canada goose jacket sponsorship amid public sporting trial. “Before the game, in the dressing room, he might anyone has got canada goose coat canada goose coat 1000 bulbs have his mind on what buy canada goose jacket ebay someone’s just said or written about him,” David Pleat, a former manager of Tottenham Hotspur, said. “But once that ball is kicked he won’t think about buy canada goose jacket winnipeg anything else. That’s the way players are.
“Giggs has kept himself out of the way. He has seemed to have an understanding with the Manchester media; he’s been around for 20 years and he’s been out and about in the clubs and so on, but you buy canada goose jacket winnipeg never hear anything of it. I imagine with the injunction he simply didn’t know what he was getting himself into. He must have imagined he could keep this quiet but this new technology, Twitter and Facebook, it has completely enveloped him.”
This is the strange circularity of Giggs’s career. State-of-the-art as a Premier League teenager, a young man in a young league, he has become absorbed by something equally modern, a new media struggle that touches upon elements of celebrity, morality, social communication and the commercial exploitation of a public image.
“I can think of 20 other footballers who could do this and you wouldn’t really think twice about it – Wayne Rooney being one of them,” Clifford said. “Giggs has got a different image so it’s far more damaging for him. He’s coming to the end of his career and this will undoubtedly diminish what he can expect to do in the future. It’s the biggest own goal I can remember.”