Wales coach Ryan Giggs says he had “no hesitation” taking the knee with his side to support the “important message” of the Black Lives Matter movement at recent international games.
The gesture had added significance for the 46-year-old Manchester United legend. His father Danny Wilson was black and Giggs says they were made to feel “different” when his dad moved to England from Cardiff to play rugby league for Swinton.
Giggs was just seven at the time and he told ITV Wales in a documentary to be broadcast on Tuesday he is “immensely proud” of his mixed race background.
“I didn’t experience anything in Cardiff. I was seven, so I can’t remember a lot before that,” he said.
“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.”
Giggs – who uses his mother Lynne’s family name – said it was strange encountering such prejudices.
“As you can guess, to look at me, you wouldn’t think my dad was black,” said Giggs. “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.”
Giggs said he would define himself as “mixed race”, but that he had never decided to “shout about” it saying: “It’s just who I am.”
He said he was reminded of how different things were between Manchester and the Welsh capital when he went back to see his dad’s family as a child.
“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,” said Giggs.
“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.”
Giggs said the decision to take the knee along with his players at recent matches 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.
The act of placing a knee on the ground was made famous by former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who first did so in 2016 to protest police brutality against African Americans and other minorities.
It gained traction worldwide earlier this year following the death of George Floyd in the United States, with teams and individual athletes across the globe coming out in support.