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Shay Stadium salutes ton-up Given

Shay Given

Shay Given

Shay Given celebrates his milestone 100th cap for Republic of Ireland tonight already looking towards another significant date on his international calendar.

Top pro Shay Given will wear the skipper's armband against Montenegro to mark the Blues goalkeeper's emotional century between the sticks for his country 13 years since his debut against Russia.

But Given knows that his big night, when Croke Park will briefly become Shay Stadium, will be followed by the two-leg play-off that can catapult the group runners-up into the World Cup finals.

Shay will savour the moment tonight surrounded by his family and rightly lauded - along with fellow centurion Kevin Kilbane - for reaching a milestone few players can hope to achieve. Watch the Shay Given video

But next month will decide if the Republic, second behind world champions Italy, are going to South Africa in the summer. Given admitted: "It's going to be a nerve-wracking time for everyone.

I'm not sure how, but Given somehow became a shot-stopping robot!

...Andy Simser on facebook...

 

"We all want to be there and I've been in the play-offs before - we've lost one and won one, and I know which feeling I prefer. We know it will be tough but we don't fear anybody and I don't think anyone will relish playing us."

Tonight, though, will be a special occasion for Shay. "And not only for me but for my family as well," he told mcfc.co.uk as he took a rare day off at Mottram Hall before Saturday's 2-2 draw with Italy.

"My two kids are going and they haven't been to a game yet, so the fact that it will be their dad's 100th cap, that will be special in itself, you know?

"If somebody had told me that I'd win 100 caps when I was growing up as a kid in Donegal, well, I'd have thought that one cap would be something special. I will enjoy the occasion but obviously  I'll have to concentrate on what I have to do in goalkeeping terms.

"I remember that first game. We played Russia in March 96 and we lost, so that wasn't very good. But that was a special occasion as well - to play for your country at any sport is special. It was a fantastic occasion.

"There have been a few that stand out. We played Holland in 2002 and knocked them out of the World Cup. Then there were the play-offs against Iran, and the World Cup finals in Japan and Korea - the highlight of my career so far, representing my country against the best players in the world.

 

We were unlucky not to beat Spain and lost out in the penalties lottery. It's a bit heart-breaking. But we know what it's like to play in the World Cup finals and we'd love to get back there.

...Shay Given

 

The dream double for ton-up Shay would be honours with City as a super send-off to South Africa. He said: "We have a great manager and a great squad - he's brought in some quality players and gelled us quickly as a team. But nothing's won in October. The prizes are handed out in May.

"It's all very well talking about it, we have to go out and achieve it. But that's what I came to Manchester City for. Come May, I hope we'll be speaking about more than a good start."

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