Shay Given still looking out for number one

Shay Given is considering approaches from Premier League and Championship clubs as well as from as far away as India, as he looks to extend his long goalkeeping career for at least one more season.

However, at 41, the Irish veteran admits that he doesn’t expect to return to the top flight in England as a Number 1.

Since departing Stoke City at the end of the last season, Given has been training with his local club Macclesfield.

“I know Steve Watson, he’s assistant manager there, so I’ve come in to stay fit because there’s only so much you can do in the gym on bikes and doing weights,” says the Donegal legend.

“Until you’re hitting the ground and catching balls, it’s a different kind of fitness so that was the thinking behind that. Because if something comes up I’d like to be in some sort of shape to be straight into it.”

He confirms that Burnley and Oldham are two of the clubs with whom he has spoken.

“There are a few others as well,” he continues. “It’s just got to be right for me. I’d like to go to a club that would still use me in some sort of capacity rather than just picking up money. I think I’m at the stage where I realise I’m not going to go in and be able to play every week. I’m 41 years of age.

“To be involved in a Premier League club at 41 would still be great. But I don’t see myself going in as a Number 1 in the Premier League at 41.

“But I’d still like to have an everyday involvement in playing. Even at Macclesfield I’ve enjoyed the banter and getting to know them. I’m going to miss that because I know it’s going to end. It’s all I’ve done for the past 25 years so it’s going to be hard to step away from that. But it’s just got to be right from a family point of view.

“Location is important but it would only be until next summer so I suppose you’d have to weigh it up if you have to travel. I’m not saying it would have to be the north-west of England.”

Indeed, he admits there is even a possibility that he could find himself following in the footsteps of his fellow international retiree, Robbie Keane.

“I’ve had a few clubs in India onto me. It is an option. I’m not saying ‘no’.

“I said I’d maybe speak to them a wee bit later because they don’t start until October. I know Robbie has just signed up so there would be somebody out there I’d know, anyway. 

“It definitely wouldn’t be a door I would shut. It will probably be more England if I can.”

And for when he finally does hang up his gloves, he says he has ambitions in coaching – and not just with goalkeepers.

“I’ve done my badges. I’ve got my A licence and I’m in the middle of doing my A goalkeeping licence. It’s something that the down the line I’d be interested in. I think I could do goalkeeping coach with my eyes closed because I’ve done it every day for 25 years though there’s still a skill to it. But I’d like to think I could offer more than being a goalkeeping coach, like as assistant manager or first-team coach.”

Have the FAI been in touch to inquire about availing of the experience of the country’s most capped goalkeeper?

“No. What do you call it, ask the pontiff?,” he smiles. 

“I don’t know, it’s something maybe down the road. I know Seamus McDonagh has been with Martin (O’Neill) all his career but who knows with the next manager? 

“I’ve been part of the Ireland squad for most of my life, most of my adult life anyway. 

“I wouldn’t say if I was never part of the coaching staff that I’d missed out but you’d like to think I could give something back to maybe the younger keepers.”

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