Giovanni Trapattoni once claimed that Shay Given could play International Football into his forties. Today's transfer from Manchester City to Aston Villa has made that a realistic prospect.
In a move that is only good news for all Irish fans the most notable detail was the fact that Given agreed to a five year contract. This means that the former Newcastle star will be tied to the club until he is 40 years of age. Trapattoni's beliefs were disappearing into a cloud of doubt as each day passed when Given sat on the bench behind Manchester City and England number one Joe Hart.
This fresh start under new Villa boss Alex McLeish should rejuvenate a career that looked to be fading into obscurity. With regular first team football under his belt Given will be in much better shape to keep goal for Ireland during their crucial upcoming qualifying games against Russia, Andorra and Armenia.
As a goalkeeper, Given should not be under any major pressure to retire over the coming years. There are very few people arguing with McLeish's claim that Given is a "world class" keeper therefore should he be able to avoid injuries, the only question about him being part of the Irish setup will lie in his own motivation.
It was blatantly obvious to all who watched Edwin Van Der Sar hang up his boots this past season that he could easily have continued to play at a very high level for Manchester United despite entering his forties. There is no reason why Given can't have a similar stint of success in the later part of his career.
Also consider the man who he is replacing in Aston Villa. Brad Friedel may not be his country's number one choice any more but at forty years of age, Harry Redknapp saw enough in him to bring him to Tottenham Hotspur. Friedel should have a chance to win the starting job from Huelho Gomes also.
Aston Villa had no fear in giving Given such a long contract. Their faith in him should be rewarded and the first team football he receives will give Ireland a world class goalkeeper for as long as he wants to represent his country. Considering the character of the man, you would expect him to play until he is replaced. Which is something that isn't in the near future.