Given retires from Ireland duty
Soccer:Shay Given, the Republic of Ireland's most capped player, has announced his retirement from international football. The Aston Villa goalkeeper played 125 times for his country, his last appearance being the 2-0 defeat to Italy at the European Championships in Poland.
The Donegal man, capped 125 times for Ireland since debuting against Russia in 1996, broke the news on Twitter this evening.
"After a lot of thought and consideration, I have made the most difficult decision to retire from international football," said the 36-year-old. "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 and 125 caps."
Given will be remembered as Ireland's best ever goalkeeper. A committed international, only injury prevented him from missing a game for his country.
He was one of a handful of players, however, questioned about his international future after a disappointing Euro 2012 campaign that saw Ireland concede nine goals in three games.
The former Blackburn Rovers, Newcastle United and Manchester City number one was left out of Giovanni Trapattoni's squad for Wednesday's friendly against Serbia in Belgrade, along with captain Robbie Keane and Villa team-mate Richard Dunne.
His decision to move aside will spark a race for the number one jersey that he has owned for the best part of 16 years. Sunderland's Keiren Westwood is the most obvious replacement, having debutised for Given on occasion, and is likely to get a chance to stake a claim against Serbia.
Motherwell's former Ireland under-21 goalkeeper Darren Randolph (25) and Millwall's David Forde (32) are also in the squad travelling to Belgrade.
Speaking this evening, Trapattoni said he was extremely grateful Given said that he would make himself available for selection if necessary.
"I understand the difficult decision that Shay had to make, 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 has lost another two players from his squad to face Serbia with Keith Treacy and Stephen Ward both returning to their clubs. There are no plans to replace either player.
Treacy is suffering from a groin strain, while Ward has returned to Wolves because of a knee problem.
Trapattoni has already lost Seán St Ledger, Marc Wilson, Darron Gibson Kevin Doyle and Wes Hoolahan to injury. The latter was called upon after four years in the international wilderness to replace Gibson, but cited an Achilles flare-up when declaring himself unavailable.
Norwich City were then contacted about the availability of Anthony Pilkington, but he too is struggling with injury after suffering a hamstring injury during a pre-season friendly.
Damien Delaney replaced Wilson, who withdrew “due to pro-dromal symptoms of a viral infection”.
Rep of Ireland squad:K Westwood; D Randolph, D Forde; D Delaney, J O’Shea, J O'Brien, D O’Dea, S Kelly, P McShane; G Whelan, J McCarthy, P Green, S Coleman, A McGeady, A Keogh, J McClean, S Long, S Cox, J Walters.