Given’s tribute to Middlesbrough support

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SUPER stopper Shay Given has thanked the Middlesbrough fans for their “fantastic” support during his impressive loan stint on Teesside, writes DOMINIC SHAW.

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 (pictured) 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 after Karanka was unable to tie Given down until the end of the season during the frantic final hours on deadline day last month, the Irishman will now head back to parent club Aston Villa after he makes his final appearance in a Boro shirt when they welcome Leeds United to the Riverside on Saturday.

He will return to Villa with happy memories of his time back in the North East, having also played for Sunderland and Newcastle, and has thanked the Boro fans for welcoming him.

“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 in recent weeks.

Since Emmanuel Ledesma netted in the 1-0 win over Charlton 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. The Irishman said: “The lads need that support until the end of the season and, ,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.”