Shay Given: Newcastle return special but I have a job to do for Villa
Shay Given will put fond memories of his 12 years at Newcastle United to one side this afternoon, insisting: “I’ve got a job to do for Aston Villa”.
Villa’s No.1 is set for an emotional return to his former club - the first time he has been back to Tyneside since departing for Manchester City in February 2009. Many of Given’s standout career moments will come flooding back to him when he runs out at the Sports Direct Arena. But the goalkeeper says gaining three points for Villa is at the forefront of his mind.
"I have never played there since leaving - this is the first time," said Given. "It will feel a bit strange I suppose. But it will be great to go back there and play. I was there a number of years and I made a lot of appearances there so I should know my way round St James’s Park! It was a special time of my career and I enjoyed every moment. I have great memories - beating Barcelona in the Champions League, things like that. But you move on in your life and your career and it’s about Aston Villa now and we are going up there to try and get three points and that’s the name of the game. You have to be professional. It’s nice to go there and play but the big thing for me is doing a job for Aston Villa."
The Newcastle side Given will come up against today is much-changed from the one he left behind three years ago. Of the current Magpies squad, the Republic of Ireland international can count only fellow keepers Tim Krul and Steve Harper, defensive duo Steven Taylor and Fabricio Colocinni and the Ameobi brothers - Shola and Sammy - as former team-mates. Nevertheless, Given has been impressed by the club’s resurgence under boss Alan Pardrew.
"The manager should take the credit," he said. "He’s done a great job. He has also been intelligent and brought in John Carver and Steve Stone - two Geordies. He’s brought in good players as well. Demba Ba has been a huge success and Tim Krul as well has been one of the goalkeepers of the season. They have done really well. You have to go back to what the manager has done. He deserves great credit because he has brought in a lot of players. Cabaye in midfield has been fantastic as a player. Their scouting system and manager are getting the best out of the players as well."
Another player gearing up to face his former club is winger Charles N’Zogbia, fresh from scoring his first Villa goal against QPR in midweek. And Given reckons the Frenchman’s first strike in claret and blue will provide him with a timely boost ahead of the clash against his old employers.
"Hopefully that will be the kickstart he needed," the 35-year-old added. "It is his first goal and will be a weight lifted off his shoulders. It was a big price tag coming here and I think he played well in the game apart from the goal. I hope that will give him a confidence boost. He looked a foot taller on the ball after he scored. I think last year the reason we bought him to the club was his great season for Wigan. He played a big role in keeping them up and everyone saw that. We just need to see it in a Villa shirt - we know it is there, we just need to bring it out of him."
source: Dan Harrison / AVFC.co.uk