Newcastle United legend says he ‘turned down’ Man Utd to complete dream Celtic move

The former Blackburn Rovers, Man City and Aston Villa star was a cult hero during his time at St James Park.
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Last night’s UEFA Champions League group stage action saw Celtic suffer a 2-0 defeat away to Dutch champions Feyenoord as Brendan Rodgers side finished the game with nine men.

Gustaf Lagerbielke and Odin Thiago Holm were both shown red cards in what was far from the ideal start to the competition for the Hoops. It was a slightly better time for clubs from south of the border as defending champions Manchester City began with a 3-1 home win over Red Star Belgrade while Newcastle United’s return to Europe’s elite competition saw them draw 0-0 with AC Milan at the San Siro.

It had been 20 years since the Magpies were last in the competition and one player who was part of that iconic squad from the early 2000s recently spoke about how he was offered the chance to sign with Manchester United, but turned it down in favour of joining Celtic. Shay Given, who made over 450 appearances for Newcastle and won 134 caps for the Republic of Ireland during his playing career, began his career at Celtic Park but never made an appearance for his boyhood team.

Speaking to talkSPORT, the FA Cup winning stopper who also turned out for Manchester City and Aston Villa, said: “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.”

He went on to discuss his departure from Celtic and subsequent playing career, saying: “I left Celtic at 18 and had to go back to Ireland and stay at home for a month or two because I did not have a club before Blackburn offered me a contract. If you had have said then when I was back in Donegal that three years later I’d be rocking out at St James’ Park in the Champions League with the number one jersey on my back, people would have looked at me and gone, ‘Yeah, good one, mate,’ because that was just a dream.”