Shay Given has revealed he had to call time on his international career to prolong his time in the Premier League with Aston Villa.
The 36-year-old announced his intention to retire from international football on Monday, having won a record 125 caps over 16 years. Given admitted he had spoken to both his club an national team managers, Paul Lambert and Giovanni Trapattoni, before making his decision public knowledge.
“It wasn’t just a spur of the moment thing,” Given said. “I was thinking about it for two months and I just felt the timing was right. For me, my head says play forever but my body is telling me different things.
“Speaking with the new manager, Paul Lambert at Villa, we had a good long chat about things. I spoke with a few different people like Richard Dunne and bounced ideas off a few others and I just came to the conclusion that it was probably best to leave now.
“It was more that I have four years left on my contract at Aston Villa and I am obviously not getting any younger. I spoke to Giovanni Trapattoni and he was okay with it and I don’t know what his thoughts were. He just basically said it is my decision of course.”
Given will now concentrate his efforts on maintaining his place as first choice goalkeeper at Villa, who re-signed American goalkeeper Brad Guzan in the summer. The midlanders open their Premier League campaign with a trip to newly-promoted West Ham United on Saturday.
“It is important I am totally fit for the Premier League season and for Aston Villa,” Given continued. “I felt it would be a big ask to go again for another campaign and to be playing in the Premier League every week as well. Maybe it was a bit too much.
“I looked at other goalkeepers like Brad Friedel, who retired from international duty at 35, and Edwin van der Saar retired at 36 and that prolonged their careers in the Premier League.
“It definitely helps if you are not travelling around the world when international weeks are on. If you can recuperate and get over little niggles and knocks it is going to be better for your club form I think.”
A new era for Ireland began last night in the friendly against Serbia in Belgrade but Given admits that should an emergency situation arise in the future, he would be willing to help Trapattoni out on a short-term basis and full in.
“That’s up to the manager,” Given said. “If there was a big problem with a few of the lads going down with injuries, if it was a big qualifier, I wouldn’t say I’m not coming over.
“If the country is stuck, of course you would answer the call. If it was an emergency, of course I would be back if Trap wanted me to play.”
Given made his international debut in 1996 whilst on loan at Sunderland from Blackburn Rovers in Mick McCarthy’s first game in charge as Ireland manager - a 2-0 friendly loss against Russia and Lansdowne Road.
The World Cup of 2002 was the highlight, when Ireland reached the last 16 before going down to Spain in Suwon in Korea on penalties after a 1-1 draw. Given’s second major finals took place this summer when Ireland lost all three group games at Euro 2012 in Poland, against Croatia, Spain and Italy. All in all, Given kept 55 clean sheets in his 125 international appearances.
“I’ll miss putting on the jersey,” he said. “It was a huge honour and a privilege to play for Ireland. I was one of the lucky ones because I was a fan myself and used to go and up and support the team. To make my debut and pull the jersey on was an unbelievable feeling.
“It will be with me forever. It was a huge honour to play for 16 years and it’s hard to believe when I say it because it is a long time. I have great memories, ones I will always cherish.”