Looking fit and relaxed Ireland goal keeping legend Shay Given wowed the Late Late Show audience last night with presenter Ryan Tubridy clearly enjoying Given’s easy, laid back manner and banter on RTÉ’s top rated show.
The Lifford man, 36, appeared to enjoy the interview with Tubridy and certainly didn’t rule out ambitions to continue as Ireland’s number one shot stopper for the World Cup run which could lead to the finals in Brazil.
Taking a line from the famous Mrs. Doyle character in the fictional Fr Ted series, Given commented “A go on, go on” when asked by presenter Tubridy if he had notions of sticking with the team for the World Cup run and a chance to play in Brazil. Moments earlier he repeated his intention to make a final decision on the World Cup after the eagerly awaited European Championship finals which are only weeks away now.
However, Given, who now seems something of a spokesman for the team, is concentrating all his thoughts on Ireland’s group games in the Euros in Poland.
Given, whose hidden talent for singing emerged recently on the Irish team song for the Euros, laughed off praise from Tubridy for his singing abilities: “It was an experience and I’ll probably look back in ten years’ time and say, ‘what was I doing there’.” He said that the cause - the Irish Cancer Society was the main reason he got involved in the song.
Talking about his charity work in the UK for the MacMillan Cancer Support, he told Ryan Tubridy that his links with the cancer charity were influenced by the death of his mother from cancer and he said that his wife Jane did tremendous work in organising the charity events in the UK that have raised over £1.2 million to date.
Shay paid tribute to his father who he said had done a fantastic job in rearing the family after the death of his mother - Shay was only five when his mum passed away. He said he had “great memories of growing up in Donegal”.
He explained how he lived in a very rural area - Rosgier outside Lifford - and found the move as a 16-year-old to Glasgow Celtic as a huge “culture shock”. He said he had a choice to pick Glasgow Celtic or Manchester United and his love for Celtic swayed his decision to go for Celtic.
At 19 he got his opportunity to play for Ireland under Mick McCarthy. “To get the call to say you can play for Ireland was a bit surreal to be honest, I was so happy to get the chance to play for my country,” he said. With players like Paul McGrath beside him, he said it was a “Jim’ll Fix It’ moment for him to be in the same dressing room as stars like McGrath and David O’Leary who he had idolised as a youngster.
Reflecting on the Thierry Henri handball incident which ultimately denied Ireland a chance to make the World Cup finals, Shay said he found it hard to believe at the time that the handball wasn’t seen by any of the officials: “It was so blatant at the time that I kind of semi-stopped to be honest, waiting to take a free kick and I looked at the referee and he was pointing at the centre-circle to give a goal. It was so blatant. I thought this can’t be happening.”
He said the use of television technology to adjudicate on key incidents such as the Thierry Henri handball which led to the crucial goal now needs to come in to football.
“The days after were tough, really sickening,” he said. He said the players and staff took the view that they would show people that they were good enough to make a major tournament and were vindicated by making the European finals.
Asked how he felt the team would do in their group, he agreed it was a difficult group but he said the team could ‘walk the walk’ and had a history of doing well when they were up against it.
Asked about his plans after the European Championships he repeated an earlier commitment he made to the Irish media that he would make a decision after the championships, but then added his “go on, go on” riposte when pressed by Tubridy who clearly enjoyed the interview with the affable Donegal man.
In the audience was Shay’s wife Jane and their children Sienna and Shane who he said would be travelling to Poland as were his dad and some of his brothers.