MANCHESTER United legend Ryan Giggs is expected in the country on Thursday ahead of the high-profile exhibition football match between the World Class Legends and the Warriors Legends scheduled for the National Sports Stadium on Friday.
BY SPORTS REPORTER
Giggs will be part of a host of international former football stars flying in for a four-day tour of the country themed Zimbabwe is open for business, which will see them use sport to promote the country as a safe destination for tourism and investment.
The high-profile exhibition match — which will be aired on Barca TV, Real Madrid TV and Man Utd TV — is being organised by the Karikoga Kaseke-led Zimbabwe Tourism Authority in conjunction with World Class Legends.
The two parties signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) last month.
World Class Legends chief operating officer Rayco Garcia, who organised a match between Warriors legends and their Barcelona counterparts last year, and La Liga’s Africa representative Antonio Barradas attended last month’s MoU signing ceremony.
Some of the other former football stars who are expected in Zimbabwe include Real Madrid and Brazil legend Roberto Carlos, Nigeria great Austin “Jay-Jay” Okocha, former Barcelona captain Carlos Puyol and ex-Brazil hitman Julio Baptista, among others.
However, it is the prospect of watching the likes of Giggs, Carlos, Puyol and Okocha live in action that should excite local football enthusiasts.
Giggs, who played for Manchester United during his entire professional career, is arguably one of the greatest players in the history of the English Premier League following a remarkable 23-year playing career which yielded 13 Premier League titles, four FA Cups, two UEFA Champions League crowns, two English League Cups and a UEFA Super Cup.
The Manchester United great signed a four-year contract to become Wales national coach, assuming the reins of the side he represented 64 times as a player, scoring 12 goals.
The 44-year-old previously coached United for a four-game interim spell in 2013/14, and was Louis van Gaal’s assistant at the Old Trafford club from 2014–16.
Okocha, widely acknowledged as one of the best dribblers in world football history, is fondly remembered by local fans for his dribbling masterclass for the Super Eagles against the Warriors in a 2006 World Cup/Africa Cup of Nations qualifier at the National Sports Stadium in 2004.
Puyol is regarded as one of the best defenders of his generation while Carlos, famed for his powerful left foot, spent 11 successful seasons at Real Madrid, playing 584 matches in all competitions and scoring 71 goals.
Last year in November the Warriors legends played Barcelona legends, a team that featured Patrick Kluivert, Rivaldo and Edgar Davids at the National Sports Stadium.