Sport Soccer

Thursday 23 February 2017

‘We don’t play for Ireland for money’ -- Shay Given

Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

"Oh my God", mutters Shay Given, "Don't get me started."

He has just been told that Stephen Ireland's girlfriend recently suggested that her beau may be ready to return to international football. Given is deeply sceptical -- 'It's clear from things gone by that he's not interested' -- and visibly uncomfortable when his Aston Villa colleague is brought up.

But when discussion turns to the issue of Irish player bonuses for making Euro 2012, you sense that the Donegal man would probably have preferred to discuss the idiosyncrasies of the shisha-smoking Cobh exile.

Weekend comments from Liam Lawrence have catapulted the issue into the public domain and it's fair to suggest that Given is unimpressed.

As a senior player, he will be aware of the situation. The FAI are understood to have made an initial offer below the level that was awarded to the squad in 2002 and, while the figures mentioned may be minor to an elite star like Given, an extra £10-20,000 would have more impact on the lower-paid members of the qualification effort.

Given knows that with the country deep in recession, any mention of wealthy individuals looking for more will fuel a perception. His bottom line is apparent.

"We are all going to be there in Poland, no matter what happens, representing our country," he says. "Everything else is nonsense really, what ever you might say, or what ever some players might have said.

Millions

"I don't think there's a problem," he continues. "I have never once played for Ireland for money. They have got 'x' amount of money because we qualified. I don't know, if we didn't get a penny or got hundreds of millions of pounds, it's not going to make a difference."

Given donates some of his money from Ireland duty towards charity -- he is heavily involved in promoting the MacMillan Cancer Support organisation -- and is not alone in channelling his funds from international action to good causes.

So, he's irked by any suggestion of greed in difficult times.

Still, he stops short of saying that the squad should just accept a first offer.

"Well I don't think ... " he responds, before diverting course. "What do you suggest we do? Go on strike or something? It's stupidity. I'm not having a story saying, 'Given says this and Given says that about money.' We don't play for Ireland for money."

Either way, the 35-year-old hopes that whatever discussions are required take place shortly, perhaps around next week's friendly with Czech Republic, so the matter can be put to bed. That's a sentiment that everyone can agree upon.

This is an exciting year for the international team, and Given doesn't want anything to dilute from the feelgood factor. He admits to thinking about Euro 2012 every single day and, with a colony of Irishmen at Villa's Bodymoor Heath training ground, regular chatter about the summer is inevitable.

The veteran, who was in Dublin to mark his appointment as Carlsberg's Euro 2012 ambassador, is unsure about what lies beyond. He will consider his Irish future when the finals are over. Villa awarded him a five-year contract and he is keen to reward that gesture, but his body feels good.

"I have to be fair to Aston Villa," he says. "But I read articles about Mark Schwarzer saying he wants to play at the next World Cup when he is 42 or 43, and I'm only 35! Brad Friedel is in his 41st year and still flying around the goal.

"You have to look at the whole picture," he continues, before breaking into a smile. "I think the first game of the World Cup campaign is a nine-hour flight to bleedin' what it's called again (Kazakhstan)...and a five-hour time difference. I might retire for one game! But, look, it's great news the manager is staying on, and we can sit down and have a chat."

Irish Independent

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