The former Irish goalkeeper Shay Given played professionally as a goalkeeper. The Republic of Ireland’s second-most capped national team player with 134 caps.
Given was regarded as an agile, athletic, committed, and courageous goalkeeper with exceptional reflexes. His Premier League teammates nicknamed him Lazarus because he never misses a game or picks up injuries and is forever sparing their blushes with match-winning saves.
Shay Given Early Days
Séamus John James Given was born in Lifford, County Donegal. A regular for his school team St. Columba’s College of Stranorlar, Shay Given also played for a local men’s side Lifford Celtic at age 14 – that’s how good he was.
And it wasn’t long before the footballing world noticed his unique talents, with many clubs after the young and exciting talent.
Bradford City Football Club, managed by former Ireland star Frank Stapleton at the time, was first in for him and had the thin and fresh-faced ‘keeper on trial, playing him in a youth tournament at Leeds.
But he had other massive offers in the shape of Premier League champions Manchester United, where Shay Given spent a couple of weeks in the company of Sir Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford.
In awe of Peter Schmeichel, his big hero and a player who he later confessed to owning several mementos, Given was very keen on their determination to sign him on apprenticeship terms.
Still, with the great Dane in goal, he knew his chances of making it with the Red Devils were slim.
Shay Given The Bhoy
So after much consideration and on the advice of his mentor and father (also of the same name and a former ‘keeper too), Given finally opted for another of his many suitors – Scottish Premier League giants Glasgow Celtic.
In doing so, following in the footsteps of another of his big heroes and fellow Donegal man, Packie Bonner – who was keeping goal at the time of Shay’s arrival as a 15-year-old.
Celtic was initially alerted to Given’s potential during a pre-season tour of Ireland in the early 1990s. With fellow Irishman Liam Brady as manager and rich history of having signed and nurtured Irish players over the years, Shay Given felt comfortable with a move to Parkhead. A dream move, he thought.
But his stay was a short one. Struggling to emerge from the shadows of Graeme Souness’ lead Rangers dominance, times were hard for the Scottish side, with gates falling below the 20,000 mark as fans disillusioned with affairs on the pitch.
Without an appearance to his name, although he did sit on the bench for an Old Firm game, Shay Given was soon packing his bags when, in 1994, a call from one of Celtic’s greatest ever players – Kenny Dalglish – meant a move across the Border to England.
Off To The English Premier League
Kenny Dalglish had liked what he saw in the youngster and had snapped up Shay Given in the hope he would go on to become Tim Flowers’s long-term replacement for Blackburn Rovers. They were in the process of building a team capable of challenging for the Premiership League Title, eventually going on to win it in 1995.
Unable to replace England international Tim Flowers at Blackburn Rovers, Shay Given went on loan to Swindon and Sunderland in 1995-1996 and performed magnificently, earning a reputation that spread throughout the game.
Kenny Dalglish, who took Shay to Blackburn from Celtic in 1994, moved in to bring him to another massive Premier League team based at St. James’ Park for £1.5 million.
He played in the 1998 FA Cup Final but missed out on the 1999 Football Association Final when Steve Harper displaced him. However, after earning the number 1 spot in 2000, Shay was once again in magnificent form for club and country and earned most supporters’ awards as their player of the Season.
He briefly lost his place in the first team to a friend and rival Steve Harper over the Christmas and New Year period due to injury, prompting a transfer request from the Irishman. But this was quickly withdrawn as Shay admitted he had acted in haste.
When an injury to Harper this time gave Shay the keeper’s berth back as Newcastle United won 3-1 at Elland Road, Shay was an ever-present right up to the end of the season.
In 2001/02, Shay played in every Premier League match for Newcastle United and was named in the PFA Premiership team of the season. He was also voted Player of the Year by the North-East Football Writers.
2002 World Cup
Shay had an outstanding 2002 World Cup for Ireland in Japan & Korea but was powerless to stop his international football team from exiting the tournament on penalties to Spain.
In February 2003, Shay made the shortlist for the FAPL’s 10 Seasons Award under the category ‘Save of the Decade,’ the save in question being his magnificent leap to his left to turn away Kevin Phillip’s goal-bound effort in the Tyne-Wear derby at Sunderland on 24 February 2002.
International Football Records
Shay became United’s most capped International Player on 30 April 2003 when he won his 41st cap (50th in total) while at St. James’ Park, overtaking Alf McMichael’s previous record.
He became Newcastle United’s most experienced European performer in the game against Hapoel Sakhnin on 16 Sept 2004 (62 matches).
The goal conceded at Wigan on 15 October 2005 meant Shay ‘raised’ his Premiership ‘shut-out’ record to 387 minutes (all comps record was 425 mins in 2001). He was named Sports Personality of the Year by Sport Newcastle and football fans on 13 March 2006.
He made his 400th career appearance at Middlesbrough on 9 April 2006 and captained Newcastle United for the last three games of the 2005/06 campaign after Alan Shearer’s injury.
Named in the English Premiership Team of the Season for 2005/06, the Irishman signed a new 5-year United contract on 12 May 2006. By the end of the 2005/06 season, Shay had only missed two Premiership games for Newcastle United in five seasons.
Severe Injury to Shay Given
In June 2006, in his hometown of Lifford, Shay was conferred with the Freedom of County Donegal. Unfortunately, he suffered a severe injury at West Ham on 17 September 206, necessitating emergency surgery to repair a tear in his abdomen.
Joined United’s ‘400’ club on 1 January 2007 and was sixth in the Magpies’ all-time appearances list. He won his 80th International cap (and captain for the day) against Slovakia on 28 March 2007 in Dublin and equaled Packie Bonner’s record for Irish goalkeeper caps (now 85).
When the Irishman was sold to Manchester City in 2009, Given was 34 games away from breaking Newcastle United’s appearance record held by Jimmy Lawrence.
Sold To Manchester City
In February 2009, Given signed a four-and-a-half-year contract with Premier League upcomers Manchester City for £5.9 million. During Given’s time at Manchester City, the club qualified for the UEFA Champions League for the first time in its history after finishing third in the Premier League.
Although he did not play in the league or the FA Cup in the campaign that Manchester City reached the Champions League, he did win the FA Cup.
Aston Villa And Stoke City
He signed a five-year contract with Aston Villa on 18 July 2011 for around £3.5 million. American Brad Guzan replaced Shay Given after two league games of the 2012–13 season because of a disappointing start. During his fours at Aston Villa, he only made 37 appearances.
Stoke City signed Given in July 2015. He spent two seasons with the club as a backup for Jack Butland. He made 8 appearances for Stoke City before announcing his retirement from professional football on his 42nd birthday.
With 134 caps for his country and 52 clean sheets, he announced his international retirement in July 2016.
Coaching Career With Derby County
In June 2018, Shay Given was appointed goalkeeping coach at Derby County. When his contract was up, the Irishman left his role at Derby as the club had severe financial difficulties and could not offer another contract.
Shay Given Stats And Facts
Full Name: Seamus John James Given
Birthplace: Lifford, Ireland
- Blackburn Rovers 1994–1997
- Newcastle United 1997–2009
- Manchester City 2009–2011
- Aston Villa 2011–2015
- Stoke City 2015–2017
International Football Career:
- Republic of Ireland 1996–2016 (134 appearances)
- 1995–96: Football League First Division Champions
- 2006: UEFA Intertoto Cup Winners
- 2010–11: FA Cup Winners
Republic of Ireland
- 2011: Nations Cup Winners
- 2001-02 and 2005-06: PFA Team of the Year
- 2005 and 2006: FAI Senior International Player of the Year
- 2005–06: Newcastle United Player of the Year
Rhett is an Australian-born, globe trotter who is a UEFA ‘A’ Licence Soccer Coach. With his family, he has traveled and coached soccer in more than 30 countries, while attending World Cups, European Championships, and some of the biggest local derbies in the world!