It’s been fantastic, Aston Villa keeper Shay Given tells Middlesbrough

STAR TURN: Middlesbrough's Shay Given
STAR TURN: Middlesbrough's Shay Given

SUPER stopper Shay Given has thanked the Boro fans for their “fantastic” support during his impressive loan stint on Teesside.

The short-term signing of the experienced keeper proved to be a masterstroke by Boro boss Aitor Karanka as the Irishman played a huge part in helping Boro move away from the danger zone and up the Championship table.

The 37-year-old kept eight clean sheets in 10 games including five consecutive shut-outs as Boro got much-needed wins under the belt during the Christmas period.

But Karanka was unable to tie Given down until the end of the season during the frantic final hours on deadline day last month.

Now, the Republic of Ireland great will head back to his parent club Aston Villa after he makes his final appearance in a Boro shirt when they face Leeds United on Saturday.

But he will head back to the Midlands with happy memories of his time back in the North East, where he also played for Sunderland and neighbours Newcastle United, and has thanked the Boro fans for welcoming him with open arms.

“It’s a huge thanks from me for the way they have made me feel welcome,” said Given.

“There is always a little bit of trepidation before you settle into a new club.

“I have been here a short time but they (the fans) have been fantastic to me personally and the team as a whole.”

While Given’s form helped Boro march up the table and within touching distance of the play-off places, firing blanks at the other end of the pitch has proved the problem for the club in recent weeks.

Since Emmanuel Ledesma hit the net in the 1-0 win at home to Charlton Athletic on January 18, Given has kept another three clean sheets but Boro have been starved of success in front of goal, not scoring in more than 500 minutes.

But the keeper is urging the Boro fans to keep believing and supporting the team until the season is out.

He told the club’s website: “The lads need that support until the end of the season.

“As I’ve said before if they can get behind the team and get some victories there’s no reason why we can’t push on and move up the table.

“You never know and the fans have to keep believing, we are all trying hard to get the team back in the Premier League.”