How Ryan Giggs told Rotherham United's Will Vaulks about his Welsh call

WILL Vaulks checked his phone on Monday afternoon and spotted a number he didn't recognise.
Will VaulksWill Vaulks
Will Vaulks

The Rotherham United midfielder had just emerged from the club's training complex where he'd stayed behind for a weights session.

Players' mobiles are strictly banned by manager Paul Warne at Roundwood so Vaulks had to wait until he got back to his car to pick up his voicemails.

That's when he heard the unmistakable tones of Wales manager Ryan Giggs.

He pressed the 'reply' button and quickly found himself in the Welsh squad for the first time ever, looking forward to matches next week against Trinidad & Tobago and Slovakia.

“I was in the gym when he first called,” Vaulks revealed. “I was quite eager to call him back! We were on the phone for about 20 minutes and had a really good chat.”

The 25-year-old's form this season as the Millers have battled for their Championship safety hadn't gone unnoticed by Giggs who was at AESSEAL New York Stadium on March 1 to watch the object of his interest set up all three goals in a 3-2 home win over Blackburn Rovers.

Warne and his staff were informed last week of the national boss's plans but kept the news to themselves over the weekend of the South Yorkshire derby at Bramall Lane.

“Will phoned me on Monday to say he'd had the call-up,” the Rotherham manager grinned. “I already knew but hadn't told him. 

“It wasn't our place to tell him. It was far more important for him to get a phone call off Ryan Giggs rather than us.”

Vaulks, oblivious to his impending selection, was red-carded for the only time in his career at the Lane, for a first-half challenge on George Baldock, and was at an all-time low before Giggs made contact.

“He just said that he'd watched me and liked a couple of things in my game,” the player said. “He liked the fact that I relish a tackle, although obviously not to the point of being sent off!”

Vaulks, who was released by Tranmere Rovers and played for free for a spell with Scottish side Falkirk before winning a move to Rotherham in 2016, will link up with the likes of Real Madrid's Gareth Bale and Arsenal's Juventus-bound Aaron Ramsey next week.

“Ryan Giggs mentioned in the press conference that I had a good story about leaving Tranmere Rovers and never giving up,” he said.

Warne, who made the most of himself in his own playing days through a relentless work ethic, sees so much of himself in his midfield man that he has nicknamed him 'Will Warne'.

“I'm really pleased for him and really proud of him,” the boss said. “He's a great kid who always gives his all. To get a call-up is pretty inspiring.

“It just shows the highs and lows of football. He couldn't have been any lower on Saturday and now he's in the Wales squad. To go from that at the weekend to being selected by Wales is pretty surreal. 

“Initially, I think he might have been a bit intimidated by the whole scenario, as I would have been as a player getting an international call for the first time. 

“I joked with him on the phone on Monday that if I'd brought in any of the Wales midfielders in the January transfer window and told him I was dropping him for them, he wouldn't have been too pleased.

“I told him he doesn't have to under-sell himself. He's a good player and he'd be a handful in any team. He's an attribute to any side. For him to get the call is some achievement, although it's no surprise to me.”

Vaulks joins Rotherham teammates Semi Ajayi (Nigeria) and Marek Rodak (Slovakia) in receiving summons to international duty. 

Also this term, Kyle Vassell has appeared for Northern Ireland, Richie Towell has made provisional Republic of Ireland squads and Clark Robertson and Ryan Williams have attracted the interest of the Scotland and Australia selectors respectively.

“We've had a few international calls this season,” said Warne who doesn't believe the Lane incident was worthy of a dismissal. “That is testimony to how well the lads are doing. 

“I didn't feel let down by Will at all last Saturday. Hopefully he will learn from it. 

“I ask him to play on the edge and his competitive spirit is what makes him great. If you take that away from him, you don't have the same player.”

Vaulks is one game into a three-match ban which applies to domestic fixtures only and doesn't prevent Giggs selecting him for next Wednesday's Trinidad & Tobago friendly or Sunday's Euro 2020 qualifier against Rodak's Slovakia.

It's a measure of the midfield man's character that he travelled to London with the Millers squad for the midweek clash at Queens Park Rangers even though he was ineligible to play. “He's a big part of what we do on and off the pitch,” Warne said.

Not long after the Wales squad was announced on Tuesday morning, a well-wisher posted on Twitter that Vaulks was joining elite company in sharing a dressing room with Bale and Ramsey.

There was equal truth in a swift reply from another Will advocate that Bale and Ramsey were joining elite company in sharing with him.