Shay Given: Infallible Irishman

ireland goalkeeper shay given

Player Profile: Shay Given

Date of Birth: 20/04/1976

Height: 6 ft 1 (1.85 m)

Position: Goalkeeper

National Team: Republic of Ireland

International Caps: 134

Club Career

Born in Lifford, Ireland, Shay Given travelled over to Scotland to start his playing career, signing for Celtic as a teenager. However, he would never play a first-team game for the Hoops, leaving to join Blackburn Rovers in 1994 on a free transfer.

Given would be number two at Blackburn to England international Tim Flowers though, and was sent on loan spells at first Swindon Town then Sunderland. He performed admirably for the Black Cats, keeping 12 clean sheets in 17 games as they won the old First Division. Given’s fine performances between the posts were enough for Newcastle to spend £1.5 million to sign him in the summer of 1997.

He slotted straight in at number one in the Newcastle side, and it was at St James’ Park where he began to make a real name for himself. Not particularly tall by goalkeeping standards, the 6’1 Irishman made up for any physical shortcomings with his strong shot-stopping ability and uncanny reflexes. In his first season for Newcastle, the Magpies had a successful cup run, making it all the way to the FA Cup final, where they lost to Arsenal. They would repeat this feat the following season but were again on the losing side, this time falling to Manchester United.

Despite his consistent form, Given’s place in the team was not set in stone. After he picked up an injury during the ‘00/01 season he failed to regain his starting position from Steve Harper after his recovery. This frustrated him, and he put in a transfer request after an extended period out of the side. Newcastle rejected this though, and he eventually returned to the starting line up. Once he was back, his place in the starting eleven seemed more concrete, and he barely missed a Premier League game for the next 5 years.

Given’s keeping continued to improve, and in the ‘01/02 season, Newcastle unexpectedly challenged for the title. They ended up in 4th place, but Given’s contributions in goal led to him being named in the PFA Team of the Year. Newcastle’s next campaign was again successful on the domestic front, finishing third. However, they struggled in Europe and failed to get out of their Champions League group. 

In the ‘03/04 season they wouldn’t make it through Champions League qualifiers. Instead, they competed in the UEFA Cup, and this is where they would begin to see more European success. They maintained strong form in the league whilst they made it to the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup where were defeated by Didier Drogba’s Marseille. Given played in every game of both the Premier League and UEFA Cup.

Newcastle continued to make progress in various competitions, with the Magpies making the FA Cup semi-final and UEFA Cup quarter-final in ‘04/05. Given continued to play almost every game, but the team would struggle domestically, finishing 14th. The ‘05/06 season was another season where Given showed how vital his performances were to the club. He once again made the PFA Team of the Year and would finally get his hands on a trophy, with the team winning the Intertoto Cup. 

The following few seasons were more difficult, both for player and club, as Given began to pick up a few injuries as Newcastle began to have issues on and off the field. He began to look for a move elsewhere and after some negotiations, made a move to Manchester City in January of 2009.

Given stated he wanted to be at a club challenging for silverware, and he felt Manchester City could be the place for him. He was the first-choice keeper as Joe Hart was sent out on loan in the ‘09/10 season, and he played well for the majority of the season until he suffered another injury. In his second full season, he was dropped after Hart returned from an impressive loan spell. Given would only make four appearances that season as City won the FA Cup.

Despite winning a trophy at City, Given was finding game time hard to come by. He moved on to Aston Villa in the summer and played in the majority of their games in his first season, but would be dropped after the first couple of matches in his second season with the club.

In his third season in Birmingham, he would not make a single appearance for Villa. He was loaned out to Middlesbrough for a few months where he performed well, keeping 10 clean sheets in 16 league outings. The following season he hardly played in the Premier League but was the club’s FA Cup keeper as they made it to Wembley, only to be defeated by Arsenal.

He signed for Stoke City in the ‘15/16 season as a backup and made 8 appearances for the team over two seasons to see out his playing career. He retired having made 451 Premier League appearances and kept 113 clean sheets. A steady influence between the posts, Shay Given was one of the Premier Leagues most relied upon keepers for over a decade. 

International Career

Mick McCarthy gave Shay Given his first international cap in 1996 against Russia, and he quickly became his country’s number one. Ireland didn’t qualify for the ’98 World Cup or Euro 2000, but they would qualify for the 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan. Here they would make it to the knockout stage before losing to Spain with Given playing in every game along the way.

He wouldn’t play in a tournament again until Euro 2012, controversially missing the 2010 World Cup after a Thierry Henry handball was missed by officials. Ireland dropped out of Euro 2012 in the group stages and Given retired from international duty.

Given would come out of retirement in 2014 however, and quickly regain his number one place in the national side. He continued playing in qualifiers and would make it into the Euro 2016 squad, but didn’t play a game. Given retired after the tournament as Ireland’s second-highest capped player of all-time with 134 appearances, behind only Robbie Keane.

Where is Shay Given now?

Shay Given has been working as the goalkeeping coach at Derby County since June 2018. He joined the club after completing his coaching badges and spending a brief spell coaching at Macclesfield Town. He was hired under Frank Lampard, who has since moved on to become the manager at Chelsea. Lampard has attempted to bring Given to Stamford Bridge but as of yet has been unsuccessful.

Did you know? Interesting facts about Shay Given

– Shay Given earned the title of ‘the only Irishman that doesn’t know where Dublin is’ after Dion Dublin scored a freak goal against him. Dublin waited behind Given until he dropped the ball before tackling him and scoring into an empty net.

– The Irishman used to carry a small vial of holy water with him to games.

– He donated all of his international match fees to charity.