Shay Given will play at St. James’ Park for the first time since he left the Newcastle club in January of 2009.
Shay Given – while at Newcastle from 1997 through 2009
And of course with Shay leaving in that winter transfer window of 2009, Newcastle were finally relegated in the May of that year, but Shay left basically the club because he couldn’t stand Mike Ashley any more.
Ashley had made some huge mistakes since he had bought Newcastle 18 months before that January, and it was when Newcastle were annihilated by Liverpool 5-1 at St. James’ Park on December 28th of 2008 that Shay decided it was time to call time on his long Newcastle career.
That was the season when Kevin Keegan had walked out in early September, and Joe Kinnear had finally come in to try to save Newcastle, but then he had to step down in early February with heart trouble.
And the Liverpool game was when Steven Gerrard got a standing ovation from the Newcastle crowd, when he was taken off by manager Rafael Benítez in the second half, after his superb performance that day.
Shay left for Manchester City and Mark Hughes, but could not make the first team during last season and played only 69 times for them in total, with England goalkeeper Joe Hart being preferred, and Shay playing only 4 times last season.
And the 120 times capped Ireland goalkeeper finally joined Aston Villa in the summer, and he has been their first choice and played 12 times this season, after being out injured for a while.
Tim Krul was at the club from the summer of 2005, and so he spent three and a half years with Shay Given and Steve Harper as the two top goalkeepers at the club, with Shay of course being the undoubted number one.
And Krul, who is having a fantastic first season in the Newcastle goals as the new number one, talked about 35 year-old Shay:
“He taught me a lot when I came to the club so I owe him a lot, and I’m looking forward to seeing him.”
“Aston Villa is another game which we feel is winnable.” “We’ll definitely be looking to get a result out of it, especially at home.”
Shay signed for Newcastle from Blackburn in the summer of 1997 by then manager Kenny Dalglish, and he’s probably the best goalkeeper ever to play for Newcastle – and he played a massive 462 times for the club.
But young Tim Krul has a chance to become even better than Shay was, in the twelve seasons the Irishman was on Tyneside.
Shay was part of that great Newcastle side that Bobby Robson built, and which qualified for the European Champions League for two seasons.
This will be the first time the 35 year-old will play at St. James Park since he left, although he was on the bench last season when Manchester City visited St. James Park and beat us 3-1 on Boxing Day of 2010.
Shay was in good form in the 1-1 draw at Villa Park earlier this season, so we just have to hope he’s not that sharp tomorrow afternoon. 😀