Henry, Bergkamp among best strikers I've faced, says Shay Given

Former Newcastle United goalkeeper, Shay Given said that he rates Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp among the best strikers he has played against.

Former English Premier League players (second from right) Shay Given, Ronny Johnsen, Robert Pires and Alan Shearer pose with the Premier League Trophy in Bengaluru on October 13.   -  G.P. Sampath Kumar

Former Newcastle and Manchester City goalkeeper Shay Given stated that Arsenal's Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp were among the best strikers he played against. On the sidelines of the Premier League Fan Park event held here, the Irishman spoke on various topics.

Excerpts:

Q - Best strikers from his era:
I faced Alan Shearer on a daily basis at practice, when we were together at Newcastle. We’d always stay back at the ground to do some extra training. Alan had power, guile, and finishing skills. He would go hard at me, and I'd give it back to him. If you can keep Alan out at practice, you have a real chance in the league games.

As for my rivals, I’d have to mention Henry, Bergkamp, and maybe a few Manchester United players as well.

Q - Missing out on all-time appearance record for Newcastle:
I’m behind a couple of older players (Jimmy Lawrence and Frank Hudspeth). I’m third on the all-time Newcastle appearance list; behind Lawrence by only 30-odd matches. Life is too short to look back.

At the time, I did the right thing by moving to Manchester City. Newcastle was selling its best players, and the club wasn’t investing much. I wasn’t happy with the stuff going on at the time. I was with Newcastle for 12 years.

Sometimes, you can be at a club for too long. Anyway, moving to Manchester City was a step forward.

READ: Don't regret choosing Newcastle over Man Utd, says Shearer

Q - Evolution of goalkeepers:
Stopping the ball is still the most important skill. But modern goalkeepers have to be good with their feet. When one flank is blocked, the goalie is expected to keep possession and move the ball down the other flank.

A team’s attack starts with the goalkeeper. Look at (Manchester City custodian) Ederson Moraes – he is superb with both feet.

Q - Henry’s handball assist, which robbed Ireland of a place in the 2010 FIFA World Cup:
It is still hard to believe. The World Cup play-offs are coming up next month, so it brings back memories of the Henry incident. It is something that you cannot get over.

I’ve met Henry a couple of times since, but I’ve never spoke to him about it. Maybe one day I will.

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