Shay Given on recent return: It's a life lesson to never give up
Shay Given made his first Premier League start in 980 days when he lined out between the sticks for Aston Villa in their 3-2 win over Everton a fortnight ago and admits he's 'loving every minute'.
His rival for a starting spot has been dropped since his embarrassing clanger against Manchester City and the Republic of Ireland international has taken his chance.
The 39-year-old is relishing every minute of his return.
"I am delighted to be back in the team. It's been a long couple of seasons," he told the Aston Villa club website.
"I am loving every minute of it. Obviously you train every day to play at the weekend so I'm really happy to be in the side.
"Brad is still pushing me really hard for that spot. It's important that you perform every week to stay in.
"It's a life lesson to never give up really. I had a spell at Middlesbrough which I really enjoyed. I had a nice time up there.
"But it's been tough not playing regularly. People don't see you training hard every day, in the gym and on the mat doing yoga. But I never gave up hope.
"The thing you miss is the edge of playing - that excitement about the game coming up.
"The other thing is you enjoy it more when you're playing because you feel helpless sitting on the bench.
"It's more nerve-wracking watching than playing.
"You feel more control of the destiny of things when you're out there on the pitch.
"Brad has been very supportive. We have a good relationship. We work hard every day pushing each other. We obviously both know it's the manager who picks the team - and not ourselves. It's a good healthy relationship."
Tim Sherwood has revitalised Aston Villa since replacing Paul Lambert and Given believes his impact has been immediate.
"All the players have been impressed with how positive he's been since he's walked in the door," he added.
"He's given everyone a new lease of life, a belief and confidence in their own ability.
"He's given us a licence to go out and express ourselves.
"Yes he shows respect for the opposition but he doesn't fear anyone. He wants us to have that belief that we are a good team with very good players.
"I think the group has responded to that and the results speak for themselves really."
Villa have won three of their last four league games, including the last two against Everton and West Ham, to be the masters of their own destiny.
And even if they lose at Southampton they will be safe from the threat of relegation should Hull lose at Tottenham on Saturday.
"The vibe in camp is that we're not safe yet.
"There have been big pressure games the past two weeks. We took care of our own business, which was great.
"We are thoroughly focused on getting the results that we need to get because we don't want it to go into the last game of the season.
"It's in our hands, of course, but still we'd like to get it done this weekend and then we can relax a bit and enjoy not too much tension around Villa Park next weekend - and then look forward to the FA Cup final the following week."
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