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We have to believe we can win it -- Given

HE knows that people will think he is crazy, but Shay Given feels Ireland must go to Poland next month believing they can win Euro 2012.

The veteran Aston Villa 'keeper is drawing on the examples of Denmark in 1992 and Greece in 2004 to support the argument that a shock is possible. That's why he aimed for the top when asked yesterday what would represent a successful tournament.

"Picking up the trophy," he replied, "People will read that now and think he's off his trolley because of some of the teams we're playing against. But if you go into a tournament, you've got to be in it to win it. The manager, I'm sure, will say the same.

"We've seen in the past what has happened with Denmark and Greece. They got one result, it spurred them on to the next result -- and then there's a snowball effect."

The Donegal man has tasted a different kind of momentum in recent months, with Aston Villa's slide down the table culminating in a narrow escape from relegation and the dismissal of Alex McLeish.

He was in Dublin yesterday on Carlsberg promotional duty before joining up with the Ireland squad tomorrow, and was instantly greeted with questions about Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who has opened talks about replacing McLeish.

Given batted those away diplomatically, while he also acknowledged that his employers need to be pushing further up the table.

Still, he has no regrets about leaving Manchester City to go there.

"I've enjoyed the season, very much so," he said. "I know people will think I'm talking rubbish when I say that, but I genuinely have.

"The year before was a real low point in my career because I didn't play any football."

For now, his thoughts are on his second major tournament experience. He's not feeling the pressure, and explains why.

"There are real pressures in life," he stressed. "There are people who are fighting for their lives in hospital -- that's pressure.

"Representing your country at a major tournament, there's pressure of course, but not pressure like our club captain (Stiliyan Petrov), who is London at the minute fighting a life-threatening disease (leukaemia).

"We're playing football. It puts it all in perspective really."

Irish Independent