Sir Alex Ferguson was shocked by Shay Given’s rejection to join Manchester United
Many footballers hope to play for Manchester United in the future. No one can readily wear the emblem because it has amassed a particular amount of reputation and pride through the years. One may only join if the manager determines after extensive scouting and application of tactics that the player is ideal.
In 1980, Shay Given made his goalkeeping debut for his hometown team Lifford Celtic. A few years later, the Glasgow giants Celtic were impressed by his efforts at a youth tournament. Given was subsequently acquired by the Hoops in 1992 and played for Celtic Park for two seasons.
According to talkSPORT, Given said when asked about rejecting United:
“I had a trial at Man United and they actually offered me a contract, but I turned them down in favour of a move to Celtic. I was a big Celtic fan growing up and United had Peter Schmeichel just coming into his prime whereas Celtic had Packie Bonner who was 34 so my dad and I felt that was a quicker route to playing first-team football.”
“….I met Sir Alex Ferguson at the 2023 League Cup final, some 30 years later, but he is like an elephant who never forgets. He said to me, ‘I still cannot believe you turned me down to go to Celtic.”
He was only 15 years old when United approached him. Given built a remarkable career, making 463 games in 12 years with Newcastle United before having stints with Manchester City, Aston Villa, and Stoke. In 1992, Given rejected United’s tempting offer.
It’s difficult to refuse an offer when it comes to the chance to work with manager Sir Alex Ferguson, gain knowledge from the finest player in the world in your position, and join a Premier League title team. But, some people prioritize their boyhood club over anything. That is exactly what Given has done.
Rejecting a premier club like United, especially when they dominated English football, is a brave choice. However, he would have been welcomed by many United supporters at the time and would have helped the team win more titles as they have done later.
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He had a career to remember, being named Newcastle’s player of the season thrice and Ireland’s player of the year on two occasions. He is a cult icon for the Magpies and the Citizens and for many, a legend for his country.