By Anthony Marshall - Newcastle United Club Reporter
Newcastle United's most capped player, Shay Given, has announced his retirement from international football.
Given won 81 caps for the Republic of Ireland during his 12-year spell on Tyneside between 1997 and 2009, and went on to total 125 appearances for his country - making him the highest capped Irish player in history.
The 36-year-old goalkeeper, who nows plays for Aston Villa, represented the Republic at the 2002 World Cup and this summer's Euro 2012 tournament, with their 2-0 defeat against Italy proving to be his final game.
"This has been an extremely difficult decision for me to make," said Given, who admitted that should there be an emergency, he would happily return to assist with goalkeeping duties.
"I have dedicated 16 years of my life to my country, and I have a great affinity with Giovanni Trapattoni's squad. I'd like to thank the Giovanni, Marco (Tardelli) and Alan Kelly for their support during my time with the team.
"I will continue to be Ireland's biggest fan, and wish the lads well as they embark upon their new campaign."
Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni praised Given for his outstanding contributions to the country, admitting: "I understand the difficult decision that Shay had to make, and appreciate all of his efforts during his international career.
"He is a strong player, with a great character and his love of playing for his country always shone through. It has been a pleasure to work with him during my time with the team. I wish him the very best in his future."