“The Size Of His Head In The Goal Used To Give Me A Lot Of Confidence”

Former Newcastle and England midfielder Jermaine Jenas outlined that Irish goalkeeper Shay Given was the best goalkeeper he played with during his near 15-year-career.

Jenas’ time in the game was cut short by injuries in 2016, but the now-pundit spent his career at the likes of Tottenham, Newcastle and Aston Villa while winning 21 caps for his country.

After starting his professional with Nottingham Forest, Jenas joined Newcastle as a 19-year-old, spending five seasons in the Premier League alongside Given.

Jenas and Given were highly successful at St James’ Park with the Magpies finishing in the top four in the first three of their five seasons together.

The pair briefly reunited at Aston Villa several years later and although it didn’t work quite work out for Jenas at Villa Park he has found memories of playing with Given, outlining to Pundit Arena that he felt he was a “massively underrated” goalkeeper during his career.

“Shay used to call me pinhead and I used to call him blockhead,” laughed Jenas.

“The size of his head in the goal used to give me a lot of confidence! But he was one of those players who when I first arrived at Newcastle I was like ‘what is going on here?’ but Shay was a very settling influence.

“He was a massively underrated goalkeeper I think in terms of how good he was as an individual really. I’d definitely say he was the best goalkeeper I managed to play with.

“I love Shay. Now he’s giving the coaching a go. I still keep in touch with Shay, he’s a great guy. Those were good times.”

Jenas was also full of praise for Given’s compatriot Robbie Keane, explaining that the Irish striker was his favourite frontman to play alongside during his career.

“For me personally it’s who I enjoy playing with the most. I love Defoe for example, love him to bits, he’s one of my good mates and one of the best goalscorers I ever played with, but he’s one of the most selfish strikers you’ll ever come across in your life.

“He’ll look you directly in the eye, shoot, and then tell you he didn’t see you. We used to get in arguments all the time and he’d go ‘I didn’t see you Jay,’ and I’d say ‘You looked me in my eye, I know you saw me!’ whereas Keano would look you in the eye and pass you the ball.

“He was more of a team player and probably got less goals on the basis of that. There’s so much more to Keano than the goals, there’s more as a captain, how he brought the group together, how he knew when to be serious or when to have a laugh. He was a real leader.”

______

Coca-Cola ambassador and football TV pundit Jermaine Jenas was in Dublin this week to speak about Coca-Cola’s ongoing sponsorship of the Premier League. In 2019 Coca-Cola announced their three-and-a-half-year partnership as official soft drink sponsor with the Premier League.

Through Coca-Cola’s Where Everyone Plays campaign, the brand celebrates the people who play a role in making the Premier League the most diverse and exciting league in the world, whoever they are, wherever they are – from groundskeepers to fans and everyone in-between.

The partnership is the first football sponsorship which applies to across Coca-Cola’s diverse portfolio of brands including smartwater, Fanta and Coca-Cola Zero. Coca-Cola has a long and rich history supporting football at all levels, from the grassroots to the world stage, inspiring and uniting people all over the world, creating memorable experiences for players and fans.

To find out more about Coca-Cola’s partnership with the Premier League and see the full schedule of upcoming activity, visit www.coca-cola.ie/premier-league #WhereEveryonePlays.

Facebook.com/cocacolaireland, Twitter @cocacolaie, Instagram @cocacolaeu

Oisin McQueirns

Oisin McQueirns is a digital journalist at Pundit Arena. Massive fan of Leeds United, Ric Flair and Trusting The Process. Contact him here oisin@punditarena.com

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