Shay Given was in Ho Chi Minh City on Thursday 31st May. He was a guest of Fox Football Vietnam, the terrific Football Academy in District 2. Shay was, of course, a top international goalkeeper playing for Blackburn Rovers, before hitting the headlines during his successful stint at Newcastle United. From there he moved to Manchester City before moving to Aston Villa, a loan spell at Middlesbrough and finishing his playing career at Stoke City. He gained a magnificent 134 caps for the Republic of Ireland.
Shay Given: A Truly Great Career
Shay Given undoubtedly had his best years at Newcastle, he did though play some great football whilst at my club, Manchester City, between 2009 and 2011. Always a popular figure, he was in Ho Chi Minh City on a promotional tour with Techno, one of Man City’s partners.
Manchester City are partnered with Techno, the mobile phone people and together with Lagardère sports entertainment and management company, they organised the Blue Dream Youth Football Camp. I met up with Shay, together with Kevin Fox and Richard Harcus from Fox football at Jaspas restaurant in Thao Dinh.
Since retiring from playing Shay has been keeping busy by getting his A and B coaching badges and is currently working on attaining his goalkeeping A licence. He has done a lot of media work especially in Ireland. He still lives in Macclesfield just 20 miles south of Manchester, which makes him ideally placed for his continued work with Manchester City.
Shay’s First Time in Vietnam
I asked him about his first impressions of Vietnam on the whistle stop tour. Predictably he mention the traffic. He joked, “It’s just mental.” I have to admit when you live here you forget just how crazy it looks to first time visitors. He was though impressed at the standard of football here. Shay again, “If they could produce just one top player football it would be massive for Vietnam, The goalkeeper for the national side looks very good.”
Not wishing to miss out on the chance of discussing my team I asked Shay about his experience at Manchester City. Shay answered, “Personally it was very interesting. The new owners made a lot of promises and they certainly delivered. Signing Robinho made a big statement”. I asked about the impact that Yaya Toure had on the club. “This was serious news. City were playing catch up back then, he has been a huge part of the club’s history”. I found Shay to be a really warm and affable bloke and a real football guy. It was great to meet him. He had all the time in the world for the youngsters, signing autographs and chatting to them.
The Guys from Fox Football Vietnam
I then asked Kevin Fox about the visit. “It was a result of Techno working through Lagardère in Singapore. Lagardère was aware of Fox Football’s increasing presence in Vietnam and reached out. A decision was made to run a clinic with Manchester City. Fox Football put together a programme for them to coach the U10s and U12s Academy teams. Man City did two days with each age group. They also did a community engagement with ISHCMC running sessions with school teams.”
I asked Richard Harcus for his take on the week. He answered, “The children have learned quite a lot working with ISCHMC, they have been working at the brand new secondary campus in D2. Manchester City coaches Andy Smith and Ben Charlton gave the kids a real taste of what proper top rate training sessions in the UK are like. Shay Given kindly came in to do the presentation of the certificates. The kids watched a presentation on TECHNO’s achievements and FOX football are happy to be a full part of this”.. The whole event was a huge success and I know that Fox Football Vietnam were delighted to be involved. They have a huge presence in Vietnam now and it’s really great to see their academy growing the way it is. From small beginnings they now have over 300 kids registered. Their coaches come from many countries and are all fully badged and experience.