Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs has recorded a video message for one Zagreb-based fan and the city. In the video, Giggs, who is currently manager of the Wales National Football Team, congratulates young Ante Perković, aged 15, for trying to raise money for a Zagreb children's hospital which was damaged recently in the earthquake.
Ante met Ryan Giggs when the former United left-winger visited the city in 2016. He was lucky enough to get a signed football from Ryan. But, Ante had recently joined a money-raising effort for the children's hospital in Petrova street and put his beloved ball up for auction. Such a selfless initiative captured the hearts of football fans around Croatia. Fans bid in the auction and paid 187 thousand kuna (£22, 000) for the ball, but on the condition that it should be returned to Ante.
The fundraising initiative was started several weeks ago by fans of Dinamo Zagreb football club (Dinamo to smo mi). It was their fans who were among the first responders at the Petrova hospital following the earthquake, where they helped evacuate the youngest children from the maternity ward. This section of the hospital and much of its equipment had been seriously damaged.
The money-raising scheme Vratimo Palčiće u Petrovu now has a popular Facebook page. Football fans from all over Croatia have put partisan support aside in order to join the initiative and help out. Football shirts - many signed, rare or vintage - plus footballs and other memorabilia have been donated from across the country. Some international supporters groups have also contributed towards the scheme, including from Scotland, Sweden and Canada, as have some famous Croatian footballers like Barcelona's Ivan Rakitić, Andrej Kramarić, Mario Mandžukić and manager of the Croatian National Football Team, Zlatko Dalić. It has so far raised 2.5 million kuna of its intended 4 million kuna total.
Ryan Giggs is one of the most decorated footballers of all time. He joined Manchester United aged 14 and spent his entire 23-year playing career at the club. He holds the record at Manchester United for the number of appearances in competition and is one of only 28 players worldwide to have made over 1,000 career appearances. He is the only player to have played in each of the first 22 seasons of the Premier League, the only player to have scored in each of the first 21 seasons and holds the record for the most assists in Premier League history (162).
During his time at United, Ryan Giggs won the Premier League 13 times, the FA Cup four times, the League Cup three times and the Champions League twice. To put that remarkable tally into easy-to-understand perspective, Ryan Giggs has 13 more Premier League medals than former Liverpool legend and club captain Steven Gerrard, whose career was played concurrently to Giggs'.