So rooted in the culture of Manchester United is Ryan Giggs
that, when he took to the stage to collect the BBC Sports Personality award
last night, Early Doors expected the following speech:
"I would have preferred three points against
At the very least, wanted an explanation of who
exactly the bloke with the mutton chops sitting next to him was.
Instead we had an unprepared but not embarrassing recitation
of platitudes, with Giggs claiming it was "up there" with the many
other pieces of silverware he has won.
However, ED suspects it will not have pride of place in the Giggs
trophy cabinet, instead getting stored among the Community Shield winners' medals and Player of the Month awards.
The problem with footballers winning Sports Personality is
it really doesn't rank very highly
among the individual prizes on offer. There is surely no footballer alive who
would not rather win the Ballon d'Or?
But let's focus
on the matter in hand. Did Giggs deserve it?
Based on his body of work in this calendar year, clearly
not. In 2008, Giggs won the Premier League, Champions League and - for what it's worth - the Club World Cup. He was not even
This year he picked up 'just' the Premier League and Carling Cup, but has had to
move into a bomb shelter to protect
himself from all the bits of shiny metal being thrown his way.
Other than in conversations about the left side of England's midfield, Giggs has spent his entire career being
slightly underrated. Just as he reaches the end, he risks becoming overrated.
Of the footballers to win Sports Personality, only Giggs was
not involved in anything World Cup-related, and only he does not have a
Bobby Moore, 1966 - Holding the Jules Rimet trophy aloft
won the World Cup.
Paul Gascoigne, 1990 - Crying after picking up a booking
to rule him out of the final. As it happened, the rest of the England team
missed the final too.
Michael Owen, 1998 - Weaving through the Argentina defence en route to that goal at the
World Cup in France.
David Beckham, 2001 - Planting that injury-time free-kick
into the top corner against Greece
to send England
to the 2002 World Cup.
Ryan Giggs, 2009 - Err... seems to be that goal he scored
against West Ham last season. Nice and all, but hardly on a par with the
It is hard to say what makes a deserving Sports Personality winner,
since nobody has really bothered defining what the award is for.
Looking at some recent victors (Zara Phillips, Jonny
Wilkinson, dear old Becks), we can probably say personality isn't a pre-requisite.
Ideally, the winner should somehow define the year in sport.
So, of the last four, Andrew Flintoff (2005) and Chris Hoy (2008) were good
winners; Phillips (2006) and Joe Calzaghe (2007) were not.
But, in a slightly duff sporting year like this, there was no
such candidate. So who did deserve it?
ED would break down the 10 contenders as follows:
(triple jump world champion)
(gymnastics world champion)
Tom Daley (diving
All world champions, but all a bit niche.
THE FATALLY FLAWED
Mark Cavendish (Tour de France sprint monster)
David Haye (heavyweight
Andrew Strauss (England
Strauss captained England to the Ashes and batted
brilliantly, but ultimately he's a bit
too posh and he's not Andrew
Flintoff. Similar problems scuppered the claims - however valid - of Cavendish
(not Chris Hoy) and Haye (not Lennox Lewis).
Jessica Ennis (Athletics
- Heptathlon world champion)
Ticks all the boxes - interesting, attractive, a winner -
but athletics is a sport in decline these days, and you probably need an
Olympic gold or a world record.
Andy Murray (Tennis)
He might have been world number two for about a fortnight, and
he might be the best British tennis player we will ever see, but what exactly did
Jenson Button (Formula
One world champion)
Had the season been the other way round, with the flurry of victories
at the end, he would have taken the award, but no wins in 10 races is no way to claim a world title.
Ryan Giggs (Manchester United)
For: He's won 11
Premier League titles and he is arguably more influential aged 36 than he has
ever been. Played more games than given credit for in 2008 - 28 out of 36 Premier
League games, plus every important European game.
Against: Has never, ever, been Manchester United's best player. Why not pick Wayne Rooney, who also had
a brilliant World Cup qualifying campaign? All these awards reek of 'lifetime achievement'.
It's like giving Al Pacino an Oscar
for Scent of a Woman just because he hadn't
won one before.
1- Andrew Strauss
- The Flintoff Factor ensured he could not win, but you'll
appreciate him after we've lost the
next 12 Ashes series.
2- Andy Murray - For
two weeks a year, he is the most famous person in the country. You can't say that about anyone else here.
3- Jessica Ennis -
For pure sporting ability, it is hard to look beyond multi-discipline athletes.
Giggs probably owes his victory to a large Welsh bloc vote that
ensured Calzaghe won in 2007 and Lloyd Whats-his-chops went about five
weeks further than he should have in X-Factor. Nothing wrong with that,
but we may look back in years to come at the award and wonder how
exactly it happened.
*** UPDATE - All the people on the message board suggesting
the 1999 FA Cup semi-final goal as Giggs's signature moment prove ED's
point that it's a lifetime achievement award. It's supposed to be for
stuff he did this year. ***
- - -
Further proof that footballers spend too little time working and too much time
watching daytime TV:
Andrei Arshavin is known as 'Meerkat' by his Arsenal team-mates, as his voice sounds vaguely
similar to the small animated mammal off the car insurance ads.
- - -
QUOTE OF THE DAY
Wayne Rooney, October 2006: "I'd never dive. I'd
like to think of myself as an honest player. That's
the way I play. I don't like diving,
football doesn't need it."
September 2009: "I have never
intentionally tried to dive. There have
been times when I have tried to stay on my feet and tried to get the shot off
rather than going down. I have never intentionally dived."
December 2009: Booked for diving.
FOREIGN VIEW: Stuttgart keeper Jens Lehmann
was again entangled in controversy when he was red-carded three minutes from
time in the Bundesliga match against Mainz
and had a minor scuffle with a fan afterwards.
Stuttgart were leading 1-0 against Mainz until former Germany keeper
Lehmann, 40, pushed striker Aristide Bance for no apparent reason and was sent
Earlier last week, Lehmann was pictured urinating against an advertising
hoarding during Stuttgart's Champions League game against Unirea Urziceni.
Mainz converted the penalty and equalised,
their third league win this season.
"The scene with Jens was unnecessary," Stuttgart coach Christian Gross said. "I
know the player Lehmann very well but know little about the person Lehmann.
"I will intensively analyse the situation with him. The success of the
team is above everything."
Lehmann, who was recently fined 40,000 euros (£35,000) for what the club
said were damaging comments about Stuttgart
fans, left the stadium without speaking to reporters and had a minor
altercation with a fan outside.
The keeper ripped the man's
glasses off before returning them a little later.