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My hero? Take it as red, says Shay

Shay Given training 0809

Shay Given training 0809

Shay Given has admitted on the eve of his first Manchester derby that as a young hopeful embarking on a goalkeeping career, he looked no further than Old Trafford for inspiration.

His goalkeeper father was a key influence on the likely lad who top-scored for the school Under-14s in Donegal, but as far as idols went for wide-eyed Shay, nobody could lay a glove on great Dane Peter Schmeichel.

Now at 33, with 94 Republic of Ireland caps and nearly 400 League games to his name, January signing Given is still a little in awe of Schmeichel, who also had a successful 31-game spell with the Blues in 2002-03.

Shay, who has starred in the push for seventh place, said: "Most kids playing the game have an idol and mine was Peter Schmeichel. He is probably one of the best goalkeepers of all time. I think it is good to have someone that you should strive to be or get anywhere close to.

"His presence and all-round aura as a goalkeeper was top notch. He developed standing up, the star-shaped jump and block which he said himself came from his days playing handball in Denmark.

"Since he used it a lot more keepers have used it, myself included. It is about making yourself as big as you can in the goal and getting a block on the ball, and he was one of the best at it.

"He was an unbelievable goalkeeper and it was great to get the chance to play against him before he retired, to see him at the other end of the pitch. And now I give his son Kasper a lift home!"

Shay pulled off one of the saves of the season at Everton from Marouane Fellaini to pave the way for the crucial 2-1 victory that injected fresh belief into the chase for a Europa League place next autumn.

Now he has an additional target for his first City season. He said: "I'm looking forward to the derby. I have some great memories of playing Sunderland when I was at Newcastle. Those are the games you want to play in.

"I'm grateful to the fans, who have made me feel welcome - and if we can beat Manchester United on derby day, then I will be well and truly settled in."

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