Séamus John James "Shay" Given, to give him his proper name, has retired from International football after 125 caps.
A goalkeeper that served Ireland very well over the years, he made the position his own.
He made his International debut in 1996 against Russia and never really looked back. He hadn’t made his debut for Blackburn Rovers at the time but his displays on loan at Swindon Town and Sunderland respectively earned him a call up to the International side.
In 2002 he played in every World Cup game, helping Ireland to get into the knock out stages.
16 years as an international player is a great achievement for any player and shows how good he is that when a new manager took over it was Shay’s name that was first on the sheet.
It was Kenny Dalglish that gave the man from Donegal his first big break in domestic football. The Scotsman had seen firsthand what Shay could do as they had both been at Blackburn together. Dalglish then took over at Newcastle United and his first signing was Given.
He was signed in 1997 and spent twelve years at the North East giants. Playing international football also helped his club as Shay grew into one of the most consistent goalkeepers in the Premiership.
In 2009 a move to Manchester City ‘to challenge for honours’, was Shay’s reason, and after a few torrid seasons at Newcastle few could blame him. Indeed Roberto Mancini said of him, ‘One of the five best goalkeepers in the world’.
On the international front Ireland had built a team that were proving hard to beat. With Richard Dunne at the heart of the defence they were sure to qualify for the Euros, another major tournament at last.
After returning from a loan deal it was Joe Hart who challenged Shay as City number one. The club had two great keepers and one had to move on so Shay signed for Aston Villa. The contract he signed means he can play till he’s 40.
After his first season at Villa Park he joined up with ‘the boys in green’ in Poland. A knee scare saw many wonder if it was the beginning of the end for Shay but the man with Green White and Gold blood wasn’t going to let that stop him.
The ‘quiet man’ will go down as a legendary keeper in Irish folklore. I still think he’ll keep going at the domestic level for another three to four years and I’m glad it was him who decided to retire and not be forced to through injury.
Shay Given I wish you a happy International retirement; I just hope the ‘boys in green’ have someone who is good enough to replace such a legend.
image: © alfonsojimenez