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Night of emotion for Shay.

Byline: By Alan Oliver

Shay Given will make a sentimental return to Basel on Thursday night - praying that he does not suffer the same fate as he did there with the Republic of Ireland three weeks ago.

For the Irish were beaten 2-0 by Switzerland in the St Jakob Park Stadium and Given saw his hopes of playing in the Euro 2004 finals go up in smoke.

Now keeper Given, and his Newcastle colleague Andy O'Brien who was on the Ireland bench that day, will return to the stadium for United's UEFA Cup second round first leg tie with Basel.

And before jetting to Switzerland tomorrow, Given told me: "When we were in Basel with the Republic of Ireland I had no idea I would be back so soon with United.

"But there could have been worse places to go and I have to say that Basel's stadium is superb. The full house of 30,000 created a great atmosphere and I'm sure it'll be the same on Thursday.

"We know Basel are a good team and it is going to be a tough game for us. It would be a nightmare for me if we were to lose and go out of the UEFA Cup, and it goes without saying that I am looking for a better result than the last time I was there."

In the space of a couple of months, United have gone out of the Champions League and the Carling Cup, while Ireland's defeat to the Swiss ended Given's hopes of going to Portugal next summer.

Given will see some familiar faces on Thursday. One of them, Hakan Yakin, scored against him for Switzerland after only six minutes in their October 11 clash. Yakin's brother Murat and playmaker Benjamin Huggel, who will also be in the Basel side, faced the Irish, while 6ft 5in striker Marco Streller, keeper Pascal Zuberbuehler and defender Marco Zwyssig were subs.

Given added: "We did not play well against Switzerland last month and we did not deserve anything on the night. In contrast, United are playing really well at the moment and I am sure I will return from Basel with a better result this time."
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Copyright 2003 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Sport NUFC
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Nov 4, 2003
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