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Tuesday 12 December 2017

Given: I'd pay to be at Euros

Ireland's No.1 insists going to Poland not about money

SHAY Given wasn't serious when he wondered aloud what Ireland's Euro 2012 squad would do if they found themselves at odds with the FAI's cash offer for participation. "What do we do, go on strike?"

It was a light-hearted question which got to the root of the reported difficulties between Abbotstown and the players who won qualification through hard graft and application.

"Playing for Ireland has never been about the money and it never will be," he said when asked about the player pool, and who could argue with that response?

But there is clearly an issue here, much as Given would like to focus on the positives which are stacking up a few months before Giovanni Trapattoni and his players set sail for Poland.

It would appear that there is a game of bluff under way. On one side, the FAI, in the midst of organisation-wide austerity, know that professional footballers don't exactly live near the breadline.

They also know that sentiment in the wider populace will always lean towards the notion that footballers earn enough and that the €8million projected revenue from Euro 2012 is badly needed elsewhere, not least to help pay down debt.

But the players should not be denied a reward for their efforts even if Given's assertion that he would actually pay for the privilege when it comes to pulling on an Ireland shirt was genuine and heartfelt.

The idea that footballers don't need any more money is all very well but you might as well tell U2 that they shouldn't charge for their world tours after they've earned a shedload.

Or that Liam Neeson should do movies for free after his bank balance has expanded to an amount which is deemed appropriate.

There is little doubt that every player in the squad, on the fringe of the squad and, like Liam Lawrence, waving goodbye to the squad, would walk over hot coals to play in Poland but that is not the point.

If they are expected to take a nominal fee for their efforts, surely everyone else involved should behave in precisely the same way?

That should mean that Giovanni Trapattoni, Marco Tardelli and indeed FAI CEO John Delaney should not receive any performance-based bonus for qualification, even if their contracts demand it.

"I think there's an offer," was Given's clearly uncomfortable response to questions about the Euro 2012 players' bonus.

"I'll be there. I'd pay to go there. It means so much for us. That's all that matters," he said before shrugging.

"What do you do? What do you suggest we do? Go on strike or something?

"We're all looking forward to the summer and I don't want a story saying Given says this or that about money.

"We don't play for Ireland for money. Hopefully, it will all be done next week. I don't think it's a big issue."

Given is now aged 35, and for most footballers that's already Indian summer territory.

But his eyes still flash and sparkle like a teenager when he moves off troublesome matters and talks about the summer ahead.

"Every day, I'm not just saying it, I think about the finals every day.

"You train with Villa and play the games but in the back of your mind you've got this huge thing flashing -- the Euros are coming!

"Obviously being in England we don't get the feedback about how everyone is feeling about it here and maybe we will next week.

"But we're all very excited about the summer and we're all looking forward to it."

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