Shay Given celebrated his 400th top flight game at Villa on Monday night and then spoke effusively about his love for the job.
More than a decade and a half at the sharp end has not dulled the Irishman’s competitive edge and he admits he cannot wait to get into work in the morning.
Given’s latest domestic milestone – an international celebration is also on the horizon - was not marked with any of the trademark wonder saves that have characterised his arrival at the City of Manchester Stadium but there is no doubting that at 33-years-old Given is at the height of his considerable powers.
Given is the best keeper in the league bar none.
...thegoat10 on Bluemoon...
“I love coming into training every morning and working at my game,” declared the Irishman who had no idea that he had reached 400 games. “Hopefully there are a good few more to come.
There is a real buzz about the training ground just now and we have managed to hit the ground running which has been great.
“It is never easy when you are putting together a new defensive unit but we have gelled reasonably quickly and reasonably well though we have to work on defending set pieces better.”
Given’s 400th appearance may not go down in the history books for any else but it did showcase the Blues character and ability to battle for every point.
“It was a decent game,” reflected the goalkeeper. “Villa is a tough place to come to especially when you give away an early goal. We dug deep and earned the point that we got. We felt we were the better team in the second half.
“It was written in the stars that Dunney should score and he was named man of the match as well. We knew that Villa would be dangerous from set plays and we didn’t deal with it on that occasion.
“It was a new feeling for us this season being behind at half time and the manager just told us to have more belief in our own ability and to keep the ball better than we had been doing.
“It felt like a game between two top sides. I think we will finish pretty close together in the league table. Villa were up there for a long time last season until the last month of the season and Martin O’Neill has done a great job.
“We are hoping to better them and be challenging come next May. For now though fourth place going into the latest international break is a good position to be in. It would have been a long two weeks if we had not picked something up on Monday and it was something that we talked about before the match.”