26 October 2020

Ryan Giggs opens up on being made to feel ‘different’ because of race

26 October 2020

Ryan Giggs has spoken about how he was made to feel “different” because of of his mixed-race heritage after moving from Wales to England as a child.

The Wales manager, 46, also said he had “no hesitation” in taking the knee to support the “important message” of the Black Lives Matter movement at recent international games.

Giggs spoke about his experiences to former Welsh rugby International Richard Parks for ITV Wales programme Can I Be Welsh And Black?, looking the significance of ethnicity in today’s Wales.

The former Manchester United winger said he was “immensely proud” of his mixed background, with his father, former rugby union player Danny Wilson, being black, and his mother, Lynne Giggs, being white.

Ryan Giggs file photo (PA Wire)

The family moved to Manchester from Cardiff when Giggs was seven after his father signed for rugby league side Swinton.

Asked about the first time he was made to feel “different” because of his race, Giggs said: “I didn’t experience anything in Cardiff. I was seven, so I can’t remember a lot before that. It wasn’t until I moved to Manchester.

“Where I lived, my dad was very well known, because he was such a good player. He was probably the best player in the team in that town.

“As you can guess, to look at me, you wouldn’t think my dad was black.

“But obviously everyone knowing that was my dad, and my dad quite clearly being black, that’s really when I sort of experienced the first time. Which was a bit weird, because I’d never experienced that before.”

On This Day in 2008: Manchester United clinch Premier League title at Wigan (PA Wire)

Giggs said he would define himself as “mixed race”, but that he had never decided to “shout about” the fact, saying: “It’s just who I am.”

He also spoke about his memories of visiting “home” to see his black cousins in Cardiff’s docks area.

“It was weird because when I was in Manchester there was no black people at my school. One or two. And obviously when I go back home I’m just surrounded by my dad’s family,” Giggs said.

“I loved it. There used to be a carnival every year down the docks, and I used to love going to that. It was just normal for me. It was great for me to have that diversity.”

There was no hesitation with myself and with my staff and with the team (to take the knee at recent international games).

Asked what it meant being mixed race and Welsh at this point in life, Giggs responded: “I think immensely proud, first of all.”

He said the decision to take the knee along with his his Welsh players at recent international games was to show the nation “didn’t put up with discrimination or racism”.

“There was no hesitation with myself and with my staff and with the team,” he said.

Richard Parks: Can I Be Welsh And Black? will be shown on ITV Cymru Wales at 8pm on October 27.

The best videos delivered daily

Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox