It is not every day you get meet your childhood hero…luckily enough, I ended up getting the opportunity on Friday to interview Shay Given.

The process towards that kind of kicking off, when I wrote an open letter on The Mag to Newcastle United’s greatest ever goalkeeper.

Shay Given is one of those rare breeds of footballers at Newcastle United, that just gets it.

To have the greatest goalkeeper to come out of Ireland, one of the best in the PL era, to spend the majority of his career at your club, is something that we perhaps took for granted when we were in the Champions League.

In a time of uncertainty at the club, where there is the potential for NUFC to really go one way or the other, a chat with Shay, a player who played through one of the greatest eras in the club’s history, doesn’t just remind you of where we once were, but we could be again.

There is nothing wrong with looking back into the past, and reminiscing about nights in Barcelona, the two semi-finals at Old Trafford, the last 16 of the Champions League, the last four of the UEFA Cup.

In fact, I think if anyone at the club had anything about them, they would know that for Newcastle to attract players, then the likes of Shay Given, Alan Shearer, Kevin Keegan, Rob Lee etc. are the guys you have to get on board!

If Newcastle really are serious about getting back to where they want to be, and they want to bring in the players to do so, then they could look no further then bringing some of the players from the past to help them do it. If you’re after a player, and persuading him to sign, stick them in a room with a Shay Given, or Alan Shearer, give them 10 minutes, and I am sure they’d come out wanting to play for this great club.

What would we do, and how much would we have to pay for a Shay Given now?

How does it feel to be named by the fans in the greatest ever Newcastle team?

“It’s just great to be nominated alongside the other goalkeepers, so that is special in itself. 125 years is a long long time, I am sure that even before our time there have been some amazing goalkeepers as well, so it is a great honour to actually go down in the history of the club. Of course, I’d love to be in the team, so it’s just an honour to be remembered as a part of such a famous club.”

So what has brought you to Tyneside this week?

“I’m here to open the store today for DW Sports, it is a great honour to be asked to open the new store. I was just saying to the guys, it is a great place to open the first one, at the Metro Centre, one of the best shopping centres in Europe.”

Have you had the chance to meet any fans so far?

“We’ve already had a few of the fans here taking penalties, so I’ve had to put the gloves back on and it’s always nice to meet the fans. I was up here for a long time of my life and it is always great to come back.”

What would be your greatest 11 from the NUFC players that you have played with?

“That a difficult one, I might need some more time on that one.

“I have to put myself in goal.

“Right back, I have no idea.”

“Woodgate in the centre, with Steve Howey next to him.

“Shearer up front, with Solano on the right. Do we have to put Bellamy up front? Ferguson probably had too many injuries”

“Lee in the middle, Robert or Duff on the left? Not sure the fans would get away with letting me put Duff on the left.

“Left back is another funny one”

“Then you also have Scott Parker, Didi Hamann, Kieron Dyer”

(**We eventually came to this final team later on…)

shay given

If the conditions were right, would you consider coming back to NUFC in some capacity one day?

“I just don’t know what the future holds, I’m really enjoying the media stuff at the minute. I am sure that Rafa is very happy with his staff too!

“Obviously though, Newcastle is a club that is very close to my heart so I couldn’t possibly never say never!

“I’ve learnt that you can never predict what happens in football – even though I am living down Manchester, settled with the kids at school, so who knows”.

When Mike Ashley first took over the club, did you think ‘this is it now’, Newcastle are going to go on and win the league, there was certainly a sense among the fans that the team would really kick on, was it the same with the players?

“I think we always had the sense that we were at a big club like Newcastle, that should be winning things. The stadium is unbelievable, the fans, the atmosphere, the whole buzz for football around the city.

“We all felt that it was a club who deserved to be winning trophies but of course we didn’t.

“Hopefully if the takeover does happen, the new owners come in and they back Rafa then anything can happen.

“To achieve success in the modern market today requires a lot of money, because the players are so expensive now, £10m or £20 million wouldn’t even buy a proper player anymore so its imperative that Rafa gets the money to invest in the team.”

How does the club, if there is a takeover, go about attracting the big players with more than just money – how do we sell Newcastle United to players?

“Obviously in the past there’s been that myth that it is hard to attract people to the North East, but that never crossed my mind once when I come to the club, I was just delighted to be coming to play for Newcastle.

“If any player has got anything about him then he would want to come here and play, obviously the club has to pay them the right money, wages wise. For me, all it would take is to come here on a match day, see the stadium, the passion of the fans, the training ground, a tour around the city. The list of positives is endless in the North East.

“I think sometimes the media actually plays on the ‘North East’ thing too much, comparing them to the London clubs or using the excuse that nobody wants to come too far north, but I just think with Rafa as manager, the staff behind him, and importantly if he gets the right backing, then players would want to join the club”.

Do you have any regrets about leaving? Especially being only 34 games behind Jimmy Lawrence’s all-time appearance record?

“I think in terms of the record, yes, it would have been nice to stay and have that record but people have to remember that I was in a situation where the club were selling their best players, and then bringing in lesser players on free transfers.

“There was no ambition at the club, no direction at the club, it was just like – I have one life and one career.

“I could have broken the record and stayed but at the same time I had an opportunity to join a club like Manchester City who at that moment were the opposite to Newcastle.

“They were showing huge ambition, in the previous transfer window they had just signed Robinho. In my mind, they could have signed any goalkeeper in the world and they wanted me, so for me, looking back now, when you are in that zone, getting battered every week…

“I just felt like I deserved more, that team deserved more, it should have been stronger.

“So when the Man City opportunity came along, it was something that I was really excited about”.

All of us can only dream of what it’s like to play for Newcastle United. So c’mon, to walk out for Newcastle in a cup final at Wembley, play at the San Siro, playing alongside Shearer, under Kevin Keegan – what’s it like?

“All of those memories are very special. The number one has to be beating Barcelona in the Champions League.

“I’m sure younger fans, even now think to themselves, ‘as if we actually beat Barcelona in the Champions League’ but we actually did!

“It is impossible to explain, but they were just great memories. It is just a special club to play for, with a special atmosphere. When things are going well, those fans will back you to the hilt, they’ll get behind you, they’ll make the biggest noise you can possibly imagine.

“That night against Barcelona, you couldn’t even hear yourself think, never mind shout to your teammates a yard away. There’s the San Siro, and the cup finals, but even the semi-finals, with the atmosphere at Old Trafford (v Sheff Utd and v Tottenham), having the whole big stand there bouncing with Geordies, was something itself. Great memories.”

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City Hall Gifts -

  • Philippines

    Hmmmm Dyer was always a ‘headless chicken’ for me. Bernard I think was massively underated and I was amazed when they let him go. I would go for Ferdinand in place of Bellamy. Still, I guess we get on to the Milburn discussion, and so on. I was sad to see Shay leave and his ambition to lift a trophy was not realised.

    • Mrkgw

      Have to agree – I was gutted at seeing Shay leave the club and instead, turning out in Citeh colours so to speak. Mike Ashley and his mob really have destroyed our club. Pure idiocy.

      I did like Dyer as a player – when he was fit to play of course. Bellamy also but for his abrasive attitude.

    • Dillon Tovak

      I don’t think Shay and Les crossed over did they?

      • TheNutJob

        Let`s hope not Dillon

        • Dillon Tovak

          That’s gone right over my head unfortunately. An innuendo?

  • mentalman

    just shows how long the full back positions have been a problem

    • TheNutJob

      1969, i think

  • 1957

    Gary Speed would have made my team rather than Dyer

  • TheNutJob

    Rafa`s odds to be sacked have plummeted

    I do not use Betvictor

    • Dillon Tovak

      I hear they are tax dodgers, from my insider mole.

  • maginyorkshire

    regarding takeover, spoke to someone on Saturday night – a friend’s boyfriend who works as a sports journalist and he said that whats being said in his circles is that a bid has been accepted and now going through process of completion

    • Oooh bobbi fleckman

      There was a really clever lady on here who said that.

      • maginyorkshire


        • Oooh bobbi fleckman

          It’s just that I posted exactly the same thing a couple of weeks ago. A guy who is very reliable with the workings if Nufc told me at the Man U game that prices had been agreed with conditions. It was a case of completing certain investigations, contract DD.

          • Damon Horner

            Announcement before New Year?

          • Oooh bobbi fleckman

            stavely’s team still have work to do, so the timing of announcement s are still in the air.

            My guy said that Mike Ashley could not see the point of allowing Stavely’s team continued access to do DD when they were so far apart re. Valuation. The had talks and agreed a figure on the basis of conditions including epl survival, contract DD etc. The problem is it’s in Stavely’s interest to find something that can drive the price down so that are doing a lot of sifting through contracts.

            The positive thing is that transfer budgets and targets will be agreed. Stavely’s client does not want to miss out on strengthening and Ashley does not want to buy assets that will not be wanted by the new owner so that’s agreed.

            This is still heresy but everything that’s leaked and happened since still fits.

          • HarryHype59

            I would be astounded if Stavely or any one else buys this club this season! Why would anyone pay Ashley even £250m, when the club will be available for less than £100m in May?

          • Oooh bobbi fleckman


          • HarryHype59

            Why would anyone pay £250m, when the odds of relegation are now 3-1?
            It is just far too risky!

          • Oooh bobbi fleckman

            Because £300m gives you the club and £150m if you could down.

          • HarryHype59

            Wrong again! If Newcastle go down again they will get a percentage of the £100m TV cash in the summer! Some had already been paid out to this regime!

            Next season, if relegated new owners will pick up a “paltry” £41m parachute payment! just like Ashley did last time, missing out on a £100m minimum windfall!

            Without the top flight TV deals the club is, to quote you “worthless”!

            Randy Lerner wanted £160m for Villa when they were in the top flight, but accepted £60mfor them last year when they were back in the Championship!

            I can see your hero taking a similar hit!

          • Oooh bobbi fleckman

            Think on, £300m buys the club at £250m. £50m is a bet at 3-1 that we are relegated. We go down, the winnings are £150m + £50m stake. The club costs just £100m. I can get £5m compensation for Rafa, £100m for the big earners so I own the club and £5m up.

          • HarryHype59


          • Oooh bobbi fleckman

            Think about it. You asked, who in their right mind would pay £250m for a club that is 3/1 to be relegated? Do the sums, buy the club for £250m, hedge against the lost revenue.

          • HarryHype59

            Is that legal? Would the bookies or whoever pay up on such a bet?

          • Oooh bobbi fleckman

            The Swindon chairman bet on us beating them in a cup game iirc. I’m not sure how Stavely’s clients could be found out being in the far East. Also, it’s better for them to stay up, heading their bets just cuts any losses.

          • Oooh bobbi fleckman

            Anyway, it’s done now.

            You didn’t believe me did you?

          • HarryHype59

            It’s not done until the Phat lad waddles out of SJP!

  • Mike

    hees not floggin a book is he?

  • gallowgate26

    Stephen Carr, the best RB he played with in 12 years at Newcastle… Habib Beye was miles better, just shows that he’s pleasing his mates back in the homeland! Duff!!??

  • Monkseaton Magpies

    Shay let the club down and his family not a nice man at all. When he talked about the heart ache of uprooting his family to join Man City and then leaving them for a dolly bird shows what type of person he is . He is an utter disgrace. Also on the football front could not command his box and come for a cross to save his live. Some fans nicknamed him Dracula.

    • David2211

      Didn’t let the club down at all. Simply left because there was no ambition, precisely what our fans have been complaining about for years.

      • Steven05

        We all have a problem with Ashley, but can’t do much about it

        One of our greatest players in living memory has a problem with Ashley, and can do something about it, so does

        How people can say a bad word about Shay Given is ridiculous

    • Gallowgate Dave

      Who are you to sit in judgement of the bloke’s personal life? You most likely know absolutely nothing about his relationship with his current partner, his ex-wife or his kids. Stick to the football man and grow up. I personally couldn’t imagine leaving my wife and 2 kids but I’m not going to sit in judgement of a bloke whose relationship I know absolutely nowt about and it’s weird that you do.

      As a keeper he was top class, not perfect, but easily the best Toon keeper I’ve seen in the last 30 years. I don’t begrudge him leaving the Toon, our crippling lack of ambition under Ashley was there for all to see and it’s a short career. You seem very childish.

      • Monkseaton Magpies

        I do not sit in judgement it is Shay who is childish having a go at Ashley and the club in the press saying he and his family were so happy up here and they forced him to leave. First he left for one reason and one reason only money and second we know what he really thinks of his family. I have no interest in what he does till he makes false statements in the press and has a go at my football club. Steve Harper was not great but was of a similar level and a lot of fans wanted him in.

        • Damon Horner

          Never said he was forced to leave he felt he should have left because our club weren’t and still aren’t ambitious (proven by letting him leave when we were in a bad place) while Man City had no limits to their targets and were proving it by throwing money around. It didn’t work for him but he had a better chance of winning something there.

        • Gallowgate Dave

          “…leaving them for a dolly bird shows what type of person he is. He is an utter disgrace.”

          No doesn’t sound like you are sitting in judgement at all. Commenting on the bloke’s personal life when you know nothing about his relationship does you no favours.

          I’ve read what Given said about leaving, I was at his final game, the 1 vs 5 against Liverpool. It’d have been double figures if not for Shay, it was horribly demoralising. I’m sure the Man City money was welcome, would you turn down a pay rise? But to say he left “for one reason and one reason only” is rubbish. Man City had ambition, look at them now. Under Ashley we have next to none, look at us now in comparison. Given’s Man City move didn’t really pay off for him but it was certainly worth a crack, it was clear even then we were sinking under Ashley. After 10 years I’m amazed you can’t see it.

          • Monkseaton Magpies

            Shay went for the money he was not even interested in playing from 2008 and 2015 he played a staggering 87 Premier League games an average of 12 games a season when he was in his peak. Two seasons he played no games and one two and one three. He was bone idle sitting on the bench picking up his money. When he was dropped for Harper for ONE GAME he put in a transfer request the next day. Many City and Paris St Germain have the wealth of countries behind them Ashley does not .Also I stick by my words each to their own but Given playing the family man in the press on leaving Newcastle leaves a very nasty taste.

  • Rich Lawson

    ”some position in the future” He’s a free agent now,goalkeeping is woeful at the moment,I’d even be tempted to give Woodman a game ?