Tuesday 12 December 2017

Roy Keane saved my career, says Shay Given

Roy Keane and Shay Given
Roy Keane and Shay Given
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Shay Given has credited Roy Keane for reviving his career with both Aston Villa and the Republic of Ireland and insists he is fit and ready to continue playing through to what he hopes will be an appearance in the Euro 2016 finals.

Given was recalled to the Ireland team by manager Martin O’Neill for last month’s crucial Euro 2016 qualifier against Poland in Dublin, with the veteran stopper who will toast his 39th birthday on Monday finally getting his career back on track following a troubled few years.

After losing his place at Manchester City to Joe Hart, Given was then put on the unwanted list by Villa as they looked to trim their wage bill, yet Keane appears to have played a pivotal role in getting the Donegal stopper back into the frame at Villa Park.

While he is still be back-up keeper to Brad Guzan in the Premier League, Given has excelled in the FA Cup this season and he believes the change in attitude towards him at Villa was promoted by Keane during his stint as assistant manager to Paul Lambert in the first half of this campaign.

“Roy had a big role in me getting back into the Ireland squad and he probably had an influence on my return to the fold at Villa as well,” stated Given, who has won praise from new Villa boss Tim Sherwood in recent weeks.

“You’d have to ask Roy what happened, but possibly he spoke to Paul Lambert and they came up with that decision to bring me back in at Villa. I certainly think Roy was instrumental in getting me back with the Irish squad, definitely.

Read more: No grudges, no looking back

“It’s well-documented what happened to me at Villa. The club wanted a few players off the wage bill and I was one of them. So I was cast to one side or whatever you want to call it, Brad Guzan came in and did well. That happens in football at times.

Shay Given, Republic of Ireland, applauds the crowd after the game. UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifier, Group D, Republic of Ireland v Poland. Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Pat Murphy / SPORTSFILE
Shay Given, Republic of Ireland, applauds the crowd after the game. UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifier, Group D, Republic of Ireland v Poland. Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Pat Murphy / SPORTSFILE

“I was on loan at Middlesborugh last season and wanted to stay there, but then Roy came to the club and the manager took me to one side and said he wanted me to compete with Brad for a place in the team this season.

“Now it feels like I am getting even closer to playing again because the new manager because he has made it clear that everyone has a chance to play now, no matter what has gone before. It would be great to finish the season in the FA Cup final and hopefully win it. After that we will have a talk about what I do next.

“You doubt yourself when you are not in the team, of course you do, but this FA Cup run has shown, probably even to myself a little bit, that I have still got something to give. I certainly think I can still be playing by the time of the Euro 2016 finals if Ireland manage to qualify, that’s for sure.”

Keane’s role in the Villa revival is somewhat ironic as the fiery former Manchester United captain was once a strong critic of Given, as he suggested in an interview a few years back that the keeper was extending his international career “just to get a pat on the back and because he wants to get 200 caps”, yet the same reborn critic has remerged as Given’s cheerleader-in-chief.

It’s a good job that Given is not the type to bear a grudge as his relationship with Keane was clearly not affected by those disparaging comments and he was also willing to forgive and forget when Lambert brought him in from the cold at Villa last summer.

“You can’t look back in football, you’ve just got to look forward and at the end of your career maybe look back and think you were harshly done by or whatever, I don’t know what way you want to put it,” he continued.

“It was the same with Paul Lambert last season when he brought me back into the squad. There is no point worrying about how I have been treated in the past or whatever. Life in general is too short to have grudges.

“All you want in life is to be given the opportunity to play and then it is over to you to show people how good you are. That is all I have ever tried to do.”

Read more: Scotland game is too big to call up Jack Grealish - Martin O'Neill

Given also offered up his thoughts on the ongoing debate over whether Villa’s Jack Grealish will commit his international future to the Republic of Ireland, as he suggested the young midfielder is good enough to play senior international football right now.

“Jack should really be involved in the first team squad at the minute with Ireland I think, but he is a young guy and you don’t want to rush him into these decisions,” added Given.

“In an ideal world we’d love him to play for us because at the age of 19, he has a big future ahead of him. I just think Jack needed someone to put his arm round him and really get behind him and Tim Sherwood has done that since he’s been here.

“He has done it before with previous young players at Tottenham. It’s great for Jack, he has shown if the manager gives you that belief and getting his first start in the Premier League gives him that confidence injection. He has got ability and can cause teams problems.”

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