Football: THE DAY RYAN SAW RED; FINLAND V WALES EXTRA but This Time Giggs Plans Happy Memories from Scandinavia
Byline: PAUL ABBANDONATO
PAUL ABBANDONATO reports on a Ryan Giggs avenge mission as he returns to Scandinavia, the scene of the worst day of his international life
RYAN GIGGS returns to Scandinavia this week determined to shed the dark memory of the lowest point of his Wales career.
Almost one year ago to the day Giggs played his last away game for Wales - and was sent off for the first time in his football career.
September 5, 2001 in Norway's Ullevaal Stadion, Oslo, is a date Giggs, stand-in skipper that night in the absence of Gary Speed, has never forgotten.
His red card, after two bookable offences, left him so distraught he refused to talk about it afterwards, other than to quietly confirm he had never been dismissed at any level of football before.
Giggs acknowledges in hindsight that he had to go that night.
He explains the rash challenge that led to his dismissal was down to the frustration of Wales' results at the time.
But he insists Mark Hughes's men are on a roll, firmly back on the right track for the coming Euro 2004 campaign which kicks off against Finland in Helsinki on Saturday.
Giggs doesn't team up with his Wales colleagues for the big clash until Wednesday. He has to play for Manchester United in the Premiership against Middlesbrough 24 hours earlier.
But when Giggs does join Hughes's party, he will arrive in a more upbeat mood than he has been with Wales for some time. And he is determined to make sure that this time the memories from Scandinavia are good ones.
``I was gutted to be sent off, especially as I was captaining the side and it wasn't the best example to set,'' admits Giggs.
``But the dust has settled and I have to accept that the referee got it right.
``My first booking that night was for dissent and although it might have been a bit harsh, I knew I was on one yellow card.
``I shouldn't have gone in for the tackle in the second half that got me a second booking and an early dism ssa .''
He goes on: ``It was my first sending-off - I hope it will be my last.''
Giggs explains that the Norway game, which Wales lost 3-2, brought to a head for him the frustration at a string of results when Wales simply couldn't win.
The Oslo clash was the 12th matchin a row Hughes's men had gone without a victory, equalling the worst run in Welsh football's 126-year history.
Everyone found the hoodoo baffling considering the huge playing talent available. And the sense of injustice spilled over for Giggs that night.
He admits: ``I find it hard to put into words the disappointment I felt at the time over our run of results.
``I just felt that our performances weren't being properly reflected in terms of the final scoreline. I said that from the first match of the World Cup campaign when we lost in Belarus. …