FORMER Republic of Ireland star goalkeeper Shay Given has split from his wife after 12 years of marriage.
Mr Given (36), from Lifford, Co Donegal, and his schoolteacher wife Jane were well known in both football and charity circles in Ireland and the UK as they have raised more than €1m for Macmillan Cancer Support.
Given's club, Aston Villa, last night confirmed his split from Jane, whom he married in 2001 in Northumberland, after meeting her in 1999 while playing for Newcastle United.
The goalkeeper, who has been capped 125 times for the Republic of Ireland, has a young son and daughter with his wife.
"Shay and his wife separated a number of months ago.
"In the interests of their family, they expect that their right to privacy continues to be respected," Aston Villa spokesman Brian Doogan said.
There were reports in a UK newspaper over the weekend that Given was in a new romance with nightclub promotions worker Becky Gibson. Ms Gibson had previously been linked to Nicky Hunt, who played with English league two side Accrington Stanley.
Given and his wife have raised over €1m for Macmillan Cancer Support in memory of his mother Agnes. Mrs Given died from lung cancer at the age of 41 when Shay was just five years old.
It inspired them to set up an annual event to benefit cancer patients, with the first Fashion Kicks charity show taking place in 2004.
On the Fashionkicks.org.uk website, it states that Jane and Shay Given are hoping to bring the total raised to more than €1.2m with a glitzy bash planned for this year's Fashion Kicks event on May 15 in Manchester.
Given finished his Republic of Ireland career on 125 caps after announcing last August his plans to retire from international football after taking part in the Euro 2012 campaign.
The goalkeeper described it as an "extremely difficult decision" for him after playing for his country for 16 years.