Shay Given will be unveiled tomorrow as Aston Villa’s new goalkeeper, having agreed a five-year deal to June 2016.
The 35-year-old Republic of Ireland international successfully completed a medical over the weekend and signed for the Villans this morning – he links up with fellow Irish Internationals including Richard Dunne, Ciaran Clark and Stephen Ireland.
Given is expected to feature against Walsall at the Banks’s Stadium later this week and for the club’s participation in the Barclays Asia Trophy in Hong Kong a week hence.
“Aston Villa is a huge football club and I’m really excited to be joining,” Given said. “I’m looking forward to training and playing with the players here. They’re a good bunch of lads, very talented and I know several of them already which will help.
“Everyone knows that I didn’t play enough football last season, so I’m really pleased that I’ll be able to put that right here. Hopefully, this move will get me back to where I was before in the Premier League, which is where every player wants to be playing.
“Obviously, I’m also excited to be working with Alex McLeish and it’s going to be a fresh start for everybody at the club this season.
“It’s also a new challenge and one I’m eager to embrace. My aim is to impress the Aston Villa supporters with my performances and I can’t wait really to get started.”
Manager Alex McLeish, himself a recent recruit to Villa’s cause, said: “Shay has come here probably with something of a point to prove and that won’t do any harm at all.
“Everybody who has watched him perform over many years in the Premier League will know his pedigree, so we believe we have secured the services of one of the best goalkeepers in the business.
“He’s a real competitor and a world-class keeper and I’m delighted he’s the first signing I’ve made at Villa.”
Given started his club career with Celtic, with whom he signed after impressing for Lifford Celtic in Ireland.
When Given’s contract expired with Celtic, he moved to Ewood Park. There his path was blocked by Tim Flowers, so he was sent out on loan. His performances while on loan at Sunderland caught the eye of the new Newcastle United manager, Dalglish, and the Scot signed him for a second time at his new club.
He immediately became first choice for Newcastle and retained the No.1 jersey for much of his time on Tyneside.
While with the Magpies, Given played in a UEFA Cup semi-final, Champions League second round and two FA Cup finals.
He played 462 games for the Toon, only 34 games away from the club record of Jimmy Lawrence.
His accomplishments and performances there led to him being recognised as one of the Premier League’s top goalkeepers.
Manchester City bought Given from Newcastle in the 2009 January transfer window, where he quickly replaced Joe Hart as the first choice goalkeeper.
While there, he was named captain while club captain Kolo Toure was on international duty.
Injury ended his season prematurely the following year and he has since been battling England No.1 Hart for his place.
At international level Given made his debut against Russia in 1996, while on loan to Sunderland. Since then he has gone on to become Ireland’s most capped player with 113 caps, eclipsing Packie Bonner as the most capped goalkeeper in 2007 and passing Kevin Kilbane on the list in 2010.
He played in both the 2002 and 2006 World Cups.
Given has long been regarded as one of the best goalkeepers in the world.
His manager at Manchester City, Roberto Mancini, described him as ‘one of the five best goalkeepers in the world’, while international team-mate Robbie Keane said he was ‘one of the best goalkeepers I’ve ever seen’.
The Wales manager Gary Speed described him as ‘the best goalkeeper in England’ only earlier this month.
Assuming he remains injury free, Given’s reign at Villa could be as long as that of recently departed 40 yrs old Brad Friedel whilst among those delighted he has signed for first team football at Villa, is Irish manager Giovanni Trapattoni who was very concerned at the possibility of Given languishing in the Man. City reserves for another season.
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