By Paul Brown
Villa goalkeeping coach Terry Gennoe has backed Shay Given to bounce back from his Croatia disappointment - and show he's one of the very best in the business.
Given came in for a smattering of criticism in some quarters following the 3-1 loss in Republic of Ireland's opening Euro 2012 group game.
But Gennoe says anyone questioning Given is "narrow-minded".
Gennoe, who also worked with Given at Blackburn and Newcastle, says he's spoken to the popular No.1 and he's in "positive" mood ahead of the Spain match this evening.
He said: "Anyone who has said anything negative about Shay after the Croatia game is narrow-minded and doesn't see the full picture.
"I'm not going to get into a war of words, but I will always defend Shay.
"He is a top keeper and will be so for a few more years to come.
"Shay is as good a goalkeeper as anyone else in the European Championships. I say that with 100-per-cent conviction. I have total belief in Shay.
"It would be totally wrong for anyone to pass judgment on Shay.
"I mean, he's played well over 100 games for Ireland — that's a phenomenal record and is a tribute to his consistency and professionalism.
"I have my own opinions on the Croatia game, others have theirs, but those opinions don't matter to me.
"I've been in touch with Shay. He's absolutely positive in his mind and focused on the next game."
Gennoe, who has worked with Given over a period of 18 years, also lifted the lid on the work ethic of the County Donegal-born shot-stopper.
He added: "Shay's one of the most professional players I've ever met. He's passionate about his football. He gives everything to his training and his games.
"You won't find a more dedicated, professional keeper anywhere.
"If everybody was as professional as he is in football then it would be a better game for it.
"You wouldn't believe the nth degree he goes to in everything — nutrition, the way he lives, the kind of training.
"He takes every route necessary to make sure he's as good as possible.
"Look at the matches he played for Villa towards the end of the season. Shay was instrumental in making sure they avoided relegation.
"He was also hugely influential in ensuring Ireland qualified. In particular, I remember a few remarkable saves he made against Russia away from home."
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