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Goalkeeper Given joins Villa after penning five-year deal

Monday media watch [18.07.11 PM] Watch full and exclusive interview with star signing Given on AVTV
Goalkeeper Given joins Villa after penning five-year deal

Aston Villa are delighted to confirm that Shay Given will be unveiled tomorrow as the club's new goalkeeper, having agreed a five-year deal to June 2016.

The 35-year-old Republic of Ireland international completed a medical over the weekend and the formality of his signing this morning.

He will be available for Thursday's friendly fixture against Walsall at the Banks's Stadium and for the club's participation in the Barclays Asia Trophy next week.

"Aston Villa is a huge football club and I'm really excited to be joining," Given said. "I'm looking forward to training and playing with the players here. They're a good bunch of lads, very talented and I know several of them already which will help.

"Everyone knows that I didn't play enough football last season, so I'm really pleased that I'll be able to put that right here. Hopefully, this move will get me back to where I was before in the Premier League, which is where every player wants to be playing.

"Obviously, I'm also excited to be working with Alex McLeish and it's going to be a fresh start for everybody at the club this season.

"It's also a new challenge and one I'm eager to embrace. My aim is to impress the Aston Villa supporters with my performances and I can't wait really to get started."

Villa manager Alex McLeish said: "Shay has come here probably with something of a point to prove and that won't do any harm at all.

"Everybody who has watched him perform over many years in the Premier League will know his pedigree, so we believe we have secured the services of one of the best goalkeepers in the business.

"He's a real competitor and a world-class keeper and I'm delighted he's the first signing I've made at Villa."

Given started his club career with Celtic, with whom he signed after impressing for Lifford Celtic in Ireland.

Despite never making a start during his time at Parkhead, he impressed so much in the youth squad that Lou Macari included him on the bench for the Old Firm Derby on New Year's Day in 1994.

Those youth squad performances also alerted Kenny Dalglish, then manager of Blackburn Rovers.

When Given's contract expired with Celtic, he moved to Ewood Park. There his path was blocked by Tim Flowers, so he was sent out on loan. His performances while on loan at Sunderland caught the eye of the new Newcastle United manager, Dalglish, and the Scot signed him for a second time at his new club.

He immediately became first choice for Newcastle and retained the No.1 jersey for much of his time on Tyneside.

While with the Magpies, Given played in a UEFA Cup semi-final, Champions League second round and two FA Cup finals.

He played 462 games for the Toon, only 34 games away from the club record of Jimmy Lawrence.

His accomplishments and performances there led to him being recognised as one of the Premier League's top goalkeepers.

Manchester City bought Given from Newcastle in the 2009 January transfer window, where he quickly replaced Joe Hart as the first choice goalkeeper.

While there, he was named captain while club captain Kolo Toure was on international duty.

Injury ended his season prematurely the following year and he has since been battling England No.1 Hart for his place.

At international level Given made his debut against Russia in 1996, while on loan to Sunderland. Since then he has gone on to become Ireland's most capped player with 113 caps, eclipsing Packie Bonner as the most capped goalkeeper in 2007 and passing Kevin Kilbane on the list in 2010.

He played in both the 2002 and 2006 World Cups.

Given has long been regarded as one of the best goalkeepers in the world.

His manager at Manchester City, Roberto Mancini, described him as 'one of the five best goalkeepers in the world', while international team-mate Robbie Keane said he was 'one of the best goalkeepers I've ever seen'.

The Wales manager Gary Speed described him as 'the best goalkeeper in England' only earlier this month.

Shay was named to the Telegraph Sport Team of the 2000s, as well as two PFA Teams of the Year.

Watch Given's exclusive interview on AVTV now - click here.

AVFC Official
By @AVFCOfficial 18th July 2011
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