Shay Given – World Class and No Trophies……yet

Shay Given has been one of Newcastle’s best ever signings – and is probably the best goalkeeper ever to wear the Newcastle Jersey.

Signed by Kenny Dalglish in the summer of 1997 from Blackburn for a fee of ₤1.5M – that must be one of the best pieces of business Newcastle have ever done.

He has since made 330 appearances for Newcastle and been capped 80 times for the Republic of Ireland – and he is Newcastle’s number 1 in many ways.


The Great Shay Given

Shay is understandably frustrated that his 10 years at the club has brought no silverware and being very ambitious, obviously wants Newcastle to start challenging for trophies – as we last did under Bobby Robson a few years back.

Suffice to say that if everybody at the club showed the same professionalism and drive for success that Shay always shows – we’d not be in such a bad plight.

Shay talked to Newcastle’s official web-site ( this morning about the upcoming new era under Sam Allardyce:

“The job Sam Allardyce did at Bolton was fantastic and hopefully he can do the same with us and get this massive club moving forward again,”
“It has been such a long time since we won a trophy and the new manager will know the pressure that he will be under from day one.
“It is a new era again, and it is a new start. It is up to every single player to impress the new manager. The players have got to perform for him.
“We have had a poor season, there’s no getting away from that. It has been disappointing and we have got to improve.
“It is frustrating that we have not had a manager that has been able to guide us to a trophy in the 10 years that I have been here, but hopefully they have got the right person in now to move the club forward.”


Shay in the Rain

Given has managed over the last four years or so to cut out mistakes and he now probably makes fewer mistakes than many goalkeepers.

However, surprising as this seems – his best years are still ahead of him and we would not be surprised if Shay is still playing in the top flight in another 10 years – with all the new training methods and diets football players are on these days.

Shay Given has always been a model professional both on and away from the pitch – and he continues to do a lot of charity work with wife Jane.

Shay is currently patron for The Macmillan Cancer Tyneside Appeal – whose mission is to work towards the day when everyone will have equal and ready access to the best information, treatment and cancer care.

Shay – thanks for the last 10 years of great service to Newcastle and the community – both on and off the field – and we’re looking forward to you – and Newcastle winning many trophies over the next 10 years !

22 comments so far

  • Justin Durst Jr

    May 17, 2007 at 3:14 PM

    Comment #1

    Good post, and I agree with you that Shay Given has been a model professional (humanatarian, too) and deserves quite a bit of respect. However, no to downplay any of his greatness, calling him “world class” is a bit of a stretch. When someone uses the term “world class” in reference to goalkeeping there are several names that come to mind and are discussed, but Given is never among them. Once again, I think Given is and has been great, with consistency being one of his most outstanding qualities, but “world class” is a term reserved for very few goalkeepers today and ever.

  • Ed Harrison

    May 17, 2007 at 3:31 PM

    Comment #2

    Justin – we got carried away 😀 – but Shay has twice been voted best goalkeeper in premiership. Not sure there’s too many good goalkeepers around these days – Petr Cech and Gianluigi Buffon come to mind .
    We would class Buffon at the top – he was just great in world cup.

  • Justin Durst Jr

    May 17, 2007 at 4:53 PM

    Comment #3

    Ed – Like I said, nothing against Given, I’m a true fan and I agree with your assesment of him other than that label. In my mind, Buffon is currently at the top as well. Also, I agree that there aren’t too many truly great ones around at present, but I believe that is because so many are in their youth. Imagine what we might see in the coming years from Cech, Casillas, Reina, and even Tim Howard (Buffon, too. He is still relatively young for a goalkeeper). The three I just listed that are in the EPL could win 2 goalkeeper of the year awards in their careers, and 3 of the 4 listed (2 Spaniards on the list) have at least 2 World Cups in them, if not 3.

    By the way, I sent you an email about exchanging links. I love your site and will continue to visit. Keep up the good work!

  • Ed Harrison

    May 17, 2007 at 6:55 PM

    Comment #4

    Justin – whoops I see you are an expert on this goalkeeping stuff .. be happy to have your link on our site.

  • Ed Harrison

    May 17, 2007 at 7:01 PM

    Comment #5

    Justin – thanks – I see you are the goalkeeping expert – so you win 😀
    We’ve put your site up on our blogroll.
    Can you do the same for us – thanks.

  • Justin Durst Jr

    May 17, 2007 at 7:12 PM

    Comment #6

    Done, thanks a bunch Ed. I’m sure I’ll be back to comment again in the future. Keep on with promoting NUFC, we’re all hoping the best for them with the coaching change.

    Also, if you get the chance check out my other blog JDJ Soccer Blog ( If you think it’s up to par I’d love to exchange links again.

    All the best to you and yours!

  • Ed Harrison

    May 17, 2007 at 9:12 PM

    Comment #7

    Justin – OK – and we assume you know about our very good – up and coming young Dutch goalkeeper – Tim Krul?

  • Justin Durst Jr

    May 17, 2007 at 9:47 PM

    Comment #8

    No, I do not. Is there a good site for me to read up on the fellow, or any access to video? I’d love to find out more about him. I’ll be honest, though, it’s difficult to keep up with all of the guys that aren’t playing when there are so many that are. My real measuring stick for all goalkeepers is how they perform against proven talent. Pass along any info you might have, or any links, and I will do a write up on the fellow if there is enough info. Thanks for the heads up, and feel free to stop by one of my blogs or shoot me an email anytime you feel there is something noteworthy happening at NUFC. I’ll be happy to write on it or let you write a post on my blog.

  • Ed Harrison

    May 17, 2007 at 10:22 PM

    Comment #9

    Justin – probably the best place is wikipedia for info on Krul.
    He’s the Dutch under 21 keeper – and very good – likely successor to Edwin Van Der Saar in Dutch side – in a few years.
    He made one start for Newcastle against Parma in Parma last season – we won 1-0 and Tim had a blinder.

  • dinko

    May 18, 2007 at 6:59 AM

    Comment #10

    I think Krul played against Palermo in UEFA cup,and win the game for Newcastle.I hope he will be like Given. Sorry Justin but I stil think that Shay is world class. Shay has twice been voted best goalkeeper in premiership,the best national league on the world-That is inuf for me.

  • Justin Durst Jr

    May 18, 2007 at 2:28 PM

    Comment #11

    Ed & Dinko – Alright, after all the discussion about the term “world class” I am definitely going to do a post on it. It won’t be a quick one, though. I am currently compiling statistics, awards and other info to try to statistically quantify the term. I realize this is not possible due to the amount of subjectivity inherent in which goalkeeper had to play against what competition, and with what team, but a good statistical base will at least let us know who is in the “world class” league. I’ll come back and leave the link in the comments when I’m done so both of you can check it out.

    Also, Dinko – saying its good enough for you doesn’t make it relevant. I could say that Paul Robinson is world class because he played in the World Cup and that is good enough for me, but that doesn’t make it a sound argument. 2 EPL goalkeeper of the year awards are a great achievement by anyone’s standards, but that is 1 country’s league award, not recognition from the world stage. This is a good topic to discuss, and we’ve covered some ground with it. So, let’s not bring it to a halt by using subjectivity as the basis of our arguments.

  • Ed Harrison

    May 18, 2007 at 3:06 PM

    Comment #12

    Justin – OK – sounds good – it would be good to know who you think are – say – the best 5 goalkeepers in the world – right now. After Buffon and Cech – not sure. Certainly would question whether Reina or Casillas are any better than Shay right now – but they are young and can improve a lot.
    But hey – an article would be great – and we’ll link to it from here once it’s up. 😀

  • reggie22

    May 19, 2007 at 12:03 AM

    Comment #13

    i think the 1 differnece is that shay was born in ireland had he been born in england italy france spain or germany the bloke would have played in constant world and euro tornaments which does get your name out there no dis respect but like ryan giggs at internantional level no recognision now had he been in 1 of the top teams he would have won world player of the year by now easy so in a nut shell YES shay is world class but unforuantely will never get the chance to prove it with the big boys ! and its different for a striker cos they score goal and get recogniced but a keeper never comes up on the score sheet nor does it say would have won 10-0 had shay not been in goal !

  • Justin Durst Jr

    May 19, 2007 at 4:35 AM

    Comment #14

    Reggie22 – I agree that had Shay been born in a country that was a world football power he would have gained more recognition. However, saying that not being born in a country that was not a world football power prevented Ryan Giggs from winning a FIFA World Player of the Year Award, is simply not true. George Weah, Liberian national team member, won the award in 1995 (and the European Footballer of the Year Award) while he was playing for Olympique Marseille, and he never made it into a World Cup. The biggest stage he ever played on was the UEFA Cup. Then that brings us to Giggs, who measured against Weah’s exposure, has really been out there. Giggs has played in European competitions since 1994, and has, as we all know won the Champions League and several EPL titles. That brings us to Giggs’ teammate and undeniably world class goalkeeper, Peter Schmeichel. He, like Giggs, won several EPL titles and the Champions League, but never had a strong enough national team to seriously compete at the international level. However, he was voted World’s best goalkeeper in 1992 & 1993, the 1997 European goalkeeper of the year, voted 5th for European Player of the Year and 5th for FIFA World Player of the Year in 1992, voted 4th for FIFA World Player of the Year in 1993, was top 4 in voting for World Goalkeeper of the Year from 1994 to 1997, and 2nd in 1999. So, having said that, despite the fact that Schmeichel and Weah never really got to compete at the international level, they were still recognized as world class. And, in this argument, saying that goalkeepers don’t get recognized simply doesn’t apply. This whole conversation has been about properly recognizing goalkeepers.

  • dinko

    May 19, 2007 at 8:23 AM

    Comment #15

    Justin-Ok I am subjectiv about shay and you are trying to be the best expert on the world but Peter Smeichel is ex footbaler. Yes he is a legend and i do not want to undervaluated him or his prices. OK Given is not like him. But i think that Shay is in same group with Cech,Reina and Lehman. Buffon and Kasillas are better but not for long 🙂

  • reggie22

    May 19, 2007 at 10:18 AM

    Comment #16

    but the one thing i noticed is they all play for world class football clubs shay is a loyal man and i think had he left newcastle and gone to 1 of the top european teams he would be classed as world class u meantined schmeichel man u weir won world player of the year playin for ac milan giggs man u and the fact u managed to find 2 examples over the past 15 years both retired now and to my point .u can but in all the stats u like but shay is the best keeper consistanty over the last ten years everyone can have a good season true class is in consistantly playin above the level of your peers and by god he has !

  • reggie22

    May 19, 2007 at 10:20 AM

    Comment #17

    add s to my point not and to my point (above)

  • Justin Durst Jr

    May 19, 2007 at 3:58 PM

    Comment #18

    How I do enjoy a good debate.

    Dinko – I agree that Shay is in the same group as Lehmann, but not Cech, and increasingly so, not Reina. I agree that Buffon is better; I’m not Casillas’s biggest fan, but I think players feel he is a better goalkeeper. What do you mean by saying “Buffon and Casillas are better, but not for long”? Given is 31, Casillas will be 27 tomorrow and Buffon is 29. If anything, Casillas and Buffon are the ones who will be getting better.

    Reggie22 – Since Shay’s arrival at Newcastle he has played in several stages of various European competitions, which, by your argument should suffice for him to gain recognition. Weah did it that way, and so have several other players in Europe. Saying that not being on a world class football club makes him any less of a player is really just proving my point. Many have said that Peter Schmeichel was Manchester United in the 90’s, and he certainly was in the early 90’s. Where would that team have been without him? Similar arguments can be made for goalkeepers like Cech, Lehmann, Buffon and Casillas in years past. Loyalty doesn’t make someone world class, either. It does make them classy, though, and their is no denying that Shay is a classy guy. There would be no guarantee that he would have played had he gone to a bigger club. Could you imagine him on one of the big 4 teams in the Premiership right now? Those teams often have top-notch back-ups. No offense to Steve Harper, but Shay’s back up isn’t exactly the kind of goalkeeper that will take your spot. Cech is playing in front of Cudicini, Reina in front of Dudek, we saw how Lehmann responded to Wenger wanting to play Almunia, and Van Der Sar forced out Tim Howard (who was a former Goalkeeper of the Year). I do believe that Shay is loyal, and I commend him for it, but I also believe that we may have never seen him on the field if he was at a bigger club right now. And, I don’t mean this in a mocking way at all, but I simply don’t have the information and can’t find any records of it: have any of the larger clubs offered bids for Shay?

  • dinko

    May 19, 2007 at 8:02 PM

    Comment #19

    With ˝They are better but not for long˝,I thought that all of them have much better defensive players to play with them. Terry, Carvalho, Toure, Carragher… With our poor defence we should concede much more goals. If Sam next season bring some quality defenders Given will be goalkeeper with less conceded goals in season. So ˝They are better but not for long˝.

  • reggie22

    May 20, 2007 at 8:37 PM

    Comment #20

    i last comment cech is better lehmann your havin a laugh he is useless van der sar i would say over the last 4 seasons given is better he played for fulham for god sake and dont even get me started on riena he is shit even mt liverpools mates say so he cant catch a virus in a brothel casillas yes he is class but once again look at the defence of these teams far superior to anything shay has ever had to sit behind in my book in european football he is no 3 !

  • Justin Durst Jr

    May 20, 2007 at 10:51 PM

    Comment #21

    Dinko – I see what you meant. All I can say about that is we’ll have to wait and see what happens and what the results are.

    Reggie22 – We will just have to agree to disagree on some of those points. You still didn’t answer my question about any of the bigger teams bidding on Given, though. I would really like to know that info.

    Other than that I must say that I’ve had fun debating with you and Dinko both, but I really need to use the time I’ve devoted to this debate to work on my blog. I am going to put together a larger argument on the world class goalkeeping issue, and I will make sure and put a message up here when I’m done with it. Thank you both so much for your time and thoughtful arguments, I really have enjoyed our discussion. Until we debate again, I say to you both cheers, and God bless!


  • reggie22

    May 21, 2007 at 11:28 AM

    Comment #22

    would barca or arsenal take given last season there was a lot of hype wenger was about to bid then he was made vice captain and it kinda quashed all rumours ? but i think barca would take him in a shot .


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