Given hangs up his gloves after 16 years as No 1
SOCCER: SHAY GIVEN appeared to catch the Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni completely by surprise with the announcement that he has decided to retire from international football after 16 years, two major championships and 125 appearances for his country.
As recently as Sunday night the Italian expressed complete confidence that all of his senior players would be available for selection during the forthcoming World Cup qualification campaign which kicks off next month in Kazakhstan. And at training yesterday morning his assistant, Marco Tardelli, seemed similarly convinced that the goalkeeper, along with Richard Dunne, Robbie Keane and Damien Duff had indicated that they would continue to make themselves available for selection.
At some stage over the course of yesterday afternoon Given appears to have phoned Trapattoni in order to tell him that in his case at least this was not the situation, although the goalkeeper apparently agreed that, notionally at least, he would answer a call in the event that the manager felt he had no option but to issue one in his direction.
By 7pm last night, though, none of that was mentioned as he broke the news of his departure publicly on Twitter.
“After a lot of thought and consideration, I have made the most difficult decision to retire from international football,” said the Donegal man, who had made no secret around the time of the European Championships that he was weighing up the possibility of retirement.
“It’s been a great honour and privilege to play and on occasion captain the team. I shall remain a huge fan of the team as I have been all my life and I wish them every success for the future.
“I wish to thank all the players, managers, staff and most importantly the most wonderful fans in the world. Finally I would like to thank my wife Jane, my two amazing kids and my entire family for their unwavering support over the 16 years 125 caps.”
The FAI reacted with a statement in which it said that Trapattoni and Tardelli were grateful for the agreement regarding the provision of emergency back-up.
“I understand the difficult decision that Shay had to make,” Trapattoni is then quoted as saying, “and appreciate all of his efforts during his international career. He is a strong player, with a great character and his love of playing for his country always shone through. It has been a pleasure to work with him during my time with the team. I wish him the very best in his future.”
Trapattoni’s own future is unlikely to be enhanced by the departure of the country’s most capped player ever. Given has been a key figure in the Irish set -up for more than a decade now but the scale of his potential had been clear well before he had made his senior debut against Russia in what was Mick McCarthy’s very first game in charge.