The Republic of Ireland’s record cap-holder, Shay Given has been his country's first-choice goalkeeper for 16 years. Although relatively small in stature, his agility and courage are second to none. A popular figure at Newcastle United FC, he joined Aston Villa FC last summer after being displaced at Manchester City FC by England No1 Joe Hart.
• Born in County Donegal in the north-west of Ireland, he played youth football for Celtic FC before launching his senior career in England with Blackburn Rovers FC, impressing on loan at Sunderland AFC as he helped the club win promotion to the Premier League.
• Returned to the north-east of England by signing a permanent contract at Newcastle in the summer of 1997, rejoining his former Blackburn manager Kenny Dalglish; helped the Magpies to reach the FA Cup final in his debut season. Was a fixture in the Newcastle line-up, through a succession of managers, for the best part of the next decade.
• His international career began on 27 March 1996 in a Dublin friendly against Russia, and he has kept his place in the team, largely unchallenged, ever since.
• His only major international tournament appearance came at the 2002 World Cup, where, after performing brilliantly in a play-off victory over Iran, he pulled out all the stops to restrict Cameroon, Germany and Spain to a goal apiece as Ireland reached the last 16, where they were eliminated on penalties without losing a game.
• Notched up 354 Premier League appearances for Newcastle plus 61 in UEFA club competition before moving to Manchester City in January 2009.
• Became City's first-choice keeper for the next 18 months before losing his place to Joe Hart at start of 2010/11 season; joined Aston Villa on a five-year contract in July 2011.
• Overtook Pat Bonner as Ireland's most-capped goalkeeper in March 2007 and reached his century on 14 October 2009 in a World Cup qualifier against Montenegro in Dublin.
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