Roy Keane and Shay Given were two of Ireland greatest servants and, despite some testing times, the recently-retired goalkeeper from the international fray outlined yesterday the solid bond between the pair, writes John Fallon.
Given, at the ripe age of 40 and holding 134 caps, officially stepped away from the Ireland set-up last week and, during an interview with RTE’s Marty Morrissey yesterday, revealed the messages he’s received from the assistant manager whom he credits for convincing him out of retirement two years ago.
"Roy is the reason why I got back involved with Ireland,” said the Donegalman.
"I retired after the Euros in 2012 and Roy was the assistant at Aston Villa and he could see every day in training that I had something to offer.
"He had a big influence on me coming back to the Irish set up and I'm thankful for that, and obviously getting into Martin O'Neill's ear and bringing me back.
"I texted him last week over my retirement and he sent me back a really touching message and very kind words he said to me.
"People always talk about his attitude or whatever likes he's unapproachable and stuff but inside the camp with the lads over the last few years, he's been brilliant."
Of course, the bond wasn’t always so amicable. Given was one of the senior players to side with Mick McCarthy in the Saipan debacles which dominated the build-up to his only appearance at the World Cup in 2002.
Keane never hid his opinion of the veteran thereafter, accusing Given of racking up the caps at the expense of budding stoppers.
"I think players have agendas, certain players come over all the time no matter what," Keane said in 2009.
"Maybe they want to get 50 or 100 caps and a pat on the back for it. Shay is one of those ones. He wants to get 200 caps."
In response, Given branded the comments “comical”.
The Corkman went on the offensive again following Ireland’s disastrous Euro 2012 finals appearance, including Given amongst a number of mainstays he deemed to be in the comfort zone of automatic selection. The controversial World Cup from a decade before was even touched upon.
Keane said: "The likes of (Robbie) Keane, Shay Given, Richard Dunne, John O'Shea and Damien Duff are picked every game as they have a big reputation. A reputation for what? They hadn't qualified for anything in 10 years.”
Given has left international football behind in a bid to force his way into the Stoke City team, a daunting task considering Jack Butland’s status as natural successor to England’s No 1 Joe Hart.
"If Jack does slip up or get injured then you want to be there and take that position and given the opportunity I still think I can play in the Premier League,” he reasons.
"I didn’t play many games last season and that was because of Jack. I got a few games towards the end of the season and particularly the West Ham match I made some saves that contributed to the victory."