FAI CHIEF EXECUTIVE John Delaney took to the airwaves on Tuesday morning to pay tribute to retiring Ireland goalkeeper Shay Given and leave the door for a possible return ajar.
Delaney spoke to RTÉ Radio’s Myles Dungan to give the association’s take on a player that made his senior debut for Ireland in 1996.
He confirmed that the Aston Villa goalkeeper contacted the FAI on Monday to inform them of his decision but also requested to speak to Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni, which he did for ’10 or 15 minutes’.
“Giovanni thanked him for his time,” said Delaney.
The chief executive spoke glowingly of Given’s time in an Irish jersey but was not willing to say supporters here had seen the last of the Donegal man. Delaney commented:
(Shay) said if Giovanni or Marco Tardelli ever needed him to come back, in exceptional circumstances, he would be available.
Delaney added that he was not surprised by the international retirement decision and that ‘everyone has to finish at some stage’.
The 10 World Cup qualifying games and a ‘long journey’ to play away to Kazakhstan may also have been factors in Given’s announcement, mused Delaney, but club pressures played a more significant influencer.
“All professional footballers are now under pressure from their clubs,” said Delaney before adding that the risk of players coming back from international duty with injuries was ‘a big thing’.
Asked to sum up the contribution Given, capped 125 times by Ireland, brought to the team, Delaney said:
He always turned up; irrespective of where we were playing, who we were playing or when we were playing … He also had the honour of captaining his country on many occasions.
“He is certainly one of our greatest players if not our best goalkeeper.”
Filling the net
The task for Ireland, starting on Wednesday against Serbia, will be to settle on a first-choice goalkeeper. It would do no favours to a side that conceded nine goals at Euro 2012 to chop and change in nets.
Delaney believes Trapattoni has not been left short in that department.
“We’ve got some good ‘keepers,” said Delaney. “Keiren Westwood and David Forde are good players. They have some big boots to fill.”
Darron Randolph, Keiren Westwood and David Forde. (©INPHO/Donall Farmer)
The chief executive also addressed fears that the retirement of Given, one of the squad’s most prominent lieutenants, would lead to players such as Damien Duff, Robbie Keane and Richard Dunne stepping back from the international scene. He said:
Each player will make their own, individual decisions on whether they are going to stay or go.
He added, “The real squad (after Serbia) will be the World Cup squad for Kazakhstan. I imagine the manager will look for clarity from each of his senior players.”