Mike MacEacheran | Ryan Giggs interview, Jet2.com
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Ryan Giggs interview, Jet2.com

It’s one of the most prestigious addresses in football: Sir Matt Busby Way. Most fans know this as the home of Manchester United and Old Trafford, but they may not recognise the gleaming building that’s sprung up like a defensive wall across the street.

It’s home to Hotel Football, a joint venture from former players Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville, following the opening of Café Football, a themed restaurant in London. For Giggsy, who’s recently been named number two to incoming Dutch manager Louis Van Gaal, it seems like an odd way to kick off the new Premier League season? Aren’t handing out half-time oranges enough for him?

“I’ve been privileged to travel around the world doing my job and throughout my career I have stayed in lots of hotels and eaten in many different restaurants – I always made a mental note of things I liked and things I didn’t,” says Giggs. “So when the opportunity came along, I knew it was the right time to make the move.”

A hotel and a restaurant may seem like an own-goal, but the project already has its fair share of celebrity backers. Food critic Jay Rayner described Café Football as ‘shockingly good’ and the core of Sir Alex Ferguson’s Class of ’92 – former players Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt and Gary Neville’s brother Phil – have got involved, too. So what’s it like going into business with former teammates? “Gary and I have always been close – he’s one of my best mates and we’ve known each other a long time,” says Giggs. “We get along very well and can be open and honest with each other. Believe me if Gary doesn’t like something, he’ll tell me and I’m the same with him.”

As for the season ahead on the pitch, big things are expected at Old Trafford. New players, a new coach, and a new number two. But as the first season in 23 years without Giggs on the team-sheet, does he think they can unearth another player like him? “I think any player coming into the side as a teenager these days has a chance,” he says. “There are improvements all the time in medical science, nutrition and how players handle recovery, so from that side of things they are better prepared than I was as a teenager. But a lot of it is down to the individual. I’ve been lucky as I haven’t had a serious injury during my career. For any teenager making their way in the game if they work hard and do the right things they have the chance of a long career.”