The Ones That Got Away…Shay Given
Full Name: Seamus "Shay" Given
Date of Birth: 20th April 1976, Lifford
Internationals: Over 70 caps for the Republic of Ireland
Signed: 1994 (from Celtic)
Left: 1997 (Sold for £1.5 million to Newcastle United)
Clubs: (Prior to Rovers) Celtic, (after Rovers) Newcastle United
Shay Given, one of the finest goalkeepers in the Premiership at the moment would be brought to Blackburn Rovers by Kenny Dalglish, unfortunately for him at the time he would be up against and England International...
The Irish goalkeeper would be playing for his local men's side, Lifford Celtic by the time he was 14-years-old, and these appearances during the FAI's Junior Cup as Lifford advanced to the semi finals would be enough to alert the attention of Scottish giants Celtic.
When aged just 15 Given was invited to join Celtic by Liam Brady when they toured Ireland, signing for the club at 16-years-old. For the next two years he would represent Celtic at U18 level, being able to make the substitutes bench for the Old Firm game with Glasgow Rangers early in 1994.
Kenny Dalglish brought Given to Ewood Park for the 1994-1995 Championship winning season but in three-years with the club Given would only be able to make three first team appearances, always performing superbly well when called upon.
With the then England International Tim Flowers, although not the England number One as opposition for Given, with Flowers in his prime during Given's time with Rovers the Irishman would be very unlucky.
In order to gain first team football Given would have loan spells firstly with Swindon Town in 1995 and then, and spectacularly Sunderland in 1996, and it would be whilst with them that he would first be called into the Republic of Ireland squad.
In 17 games with Sunderland he kept an incredible 16 clean sheets. He would also win a Division One Champions medal when Sunderland won the Title despite not being with them when it was achieved, his ten or more matches needed qualified him for the honour.
Upon taking over at Newcastle United Shay Given would be one of Kenny Dalglish`s first signings in 1997 for £1.5 million. He would almost immediately become the number one at St James' Park, remaining so almost ever since.
His consistent performances have seen him named in the PFA team of the Year in both the 2001-2002 and 2005-2006 seasons, as well as amounting over 70 International caps with the Republic of Ireland, being their number one, as he has for so many years, in the 2002 World Cup Finals.
Had it not been for competition from the great Tim Flowers, Shay Given could have still been at Rovers now? Despite eventually seeing the fantastic Brad Friedel arriving that not many would swap for anyone, Shay Given certainly is one that got away...
The above information is as accurate to my knowledge as possible, up to and including 26th September 2006.
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