NUFC’s Shay Given – Welcome Home
Many players return to Newcastle United to mixed receptions, heroes and villains is the name of the game and I know undoubtedly where I’d place Shay Given.
Yes he left in the middle of the relegation season but at that time I don’t think you could have had a football club being more bizarrely run as Newcastle United were at the time.
If I just say that our manager at the time was Joe Kinnear, I think that just about covers that!
Yes I’d rather he’d stayed that season because I think he was so good that I have no doubts his presence would have been worth the extra points for us to stay up. However, I totally understood his reasons for going, he had just had enough and I think there were plenty of us, the fans, feeling the same way.
As he prepares to return to St.James’ Park, Shay Given talked to The Guardian about those mad and emotional times at Newcastle United;
“It will be special going back there, I had great times and I have great memories. I’ve always been very grateful for the support that I had when I was at the club and it will be nice to thank the fans because I haven’t been back since I left.
At one point I did think I would be there for life but then things change and you change yourself a little bit. Sometimes you can go stale at a club. At the time I left I felt it was right for me to go to Manchester City. It was a new challenge and a new lease of life because you can get a little bit stuck in your ways. But I enjoyed my time at Newcastle.
To be playing in the Champions League and some of the atmospheres at St James’ Park, especially that Barcelona game, stands out for me, Tino got a hat-trick and Keith Gillespie was on fire on the right wing – they’re great memories that you’ll have forever”.
Kenny Dalgish was in charge at the time, the first of Given’s eight managers – Ruud Gullit, Sir Bobby Robson, Graeme Souness, Glenn Roeder, Sam Allardyce, Kevin Keegan and Kinnear were the others.
“Yeah, I think it was a bit mad at times. Stability wasn’t high up on the agenda when it came to managers. The most successful period we had was under Sir Bobby Robson and I think we finished fourth, third and fifth in consecutive seasons. And then they decided to get rid of Bobby when we finished fifth and just missed out on the Champions League for a third year in a row.
The thing about Newcastle is if there is a defeat or a couple of bad results, then it’s a full-blown crisis. It’s just one of those cities. But the people are obviously very happy up there at the moment at the way their team are playing and the results they are getting. There’s no crisis on the horizon I can see.
A lot of the Dutch players have that sort of belief in their ability, and you could see it in Tim from a young age. Edwin Van der Sar was in a similar kind of mould. Tim has been fantastic this season and one of the reasons why Newcastle are so high in the league is because of his form. He has gone to a new level and been one of the goalkeepers of the season”.
Shay Given is easily the best goalkeeper seen in the modern era at St.James’ Park, though of course we’d all love Tim Krul to surpass that in time. Shay is third in terms of all time appearances for Newcastle United and won many many points and friends in his time on Tyneside, let’s all give him the reception he deserves.
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