Shay: my euro dream

Shay Given says the Irish team plan to have the Aviva Stadium rocking tonight as the Green Army get ready to celebrate qualification to the 2012 European Championships.

Shay Given says the Irish team plan to have the Aviva Stadium rocking tonight as the Green Army get ready to celebrate qualification to the 2012 European Championships.

The Lifford goalkeeper said it will be a special feeling to be part of the Irish side that reaches a first every Euro Finals tournament since 1988.

“I’m not getting any younger and it would be brilliant to be there next summer and to bring a massive following of Irish supporters with us,” Given said.

“It’s been too long since they’ve been to the last European championships.”

While Given will again feature in goal tonight, Seamus Coleman will have to watch from the sidelines with John O’Shea expected to return in place of the injured Stephen Kelly at right back.

And after their 4-0 victory in Estonia on Friday night, Given said the Irish can look forward to a memorable night in Dublin tonight.

“We want to win the game on Tuesday. It will be a full house and hopefully it will be a special night for everyone at the Aviva,” Given told Highland Radio’s Sunday Sport. “The fans will be looking for a performance. The key thing is getting to the European Championships and that’s what we’ve got to do. Ideally we’d love to win the game by a couple of goals or whatever and get the place really rocking. But the most important thing is get to the Euro champinoships next summer.

“We’ve put ourselves in a fantastic position. It’s almost 25 years since an Irish team has been there and it would be great if we could be the first Irish team to qualify in Dublin. To be part of that would be very special.”

He added: “We’ve got to do a professional job. We have to use our heads and not get a man sent off early like they did. The tie could quickly turn the other way so it’s important that we keep eleven players on the field and do a professional job. We’ve got our 4-0 lead, we couldn’t ask for any more.”

The Aston Villa man said there was a feeling of disbelief among the Irish when the final whistle went in Estonia. Now he’s looking forward to his first ever appearance in a Euro Finals tournament.

“I’ve never been. I’ve had a few goes at it and over the years, it seems to get harder because the teams are improving all around Europe and there are no easy games,” he said.

“I’m not getting any younger and it would be brilliant to be there next summer and bring a massive following of Irish supporters with us. It’s been too long since they’ve been to the last European championships.

“It’s given everyone a lift to be honest. The country is going through a difficult time and I think sometimes sport can do that, it can give people a lift. Hopefully we can finish the job and people can look forward to another summer at a European Championships and the feel-good factor will be back in Irish football.”