Winger Kilbane dismisses Republic retirement as he stands 100 not out

08 October 2009 11:33
As he prepares for the two crucial World Cup games which will take him to 100 Ireland caps, Kevin Kilbane insists he has no thoughts of international retirement.

The Hull City stalwart, who has played in three different positions for his club this season, will join Shay Given in reaching a century of appearances for his country if he plays in the games against Italy and Montenegro this week.

The pair have become close friends since making their debuts under Mick McCarthy 12 and 13 years ago and together they have been through trials, tribulations and one World Cup Finals in Japan and South Korea.

Century maker: Kevin Kilbane (right) in training for Ireland

Kilbane is looking beyond next summer's finals, if Ireland get the necessary points for the play-offs and then overcome FIFA's seeding for the two final eight matches next month.

The 32-year-old, who has also played more than 50 consecutive competitive games for Ireland under four managers, has repeatedly been asked when he will retire from the international scene. But he is having none of it. Playing for Ireland is Kilbane's `Champions League'.

Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni and his assistant Marco Tardelli have signed new contracts for the Euro 2012 qualifying campaign and Kilbane wants to be a part of that adventure too.

Kilbane said: `I haven't even thought about it (international retirement). Definitely, genuinely. I love coming in and I think now more so, when you can reflect and look back with a little smile on your face.

Old boy: Kilbane at the 2002 World Cup

`Lads are retiring very early and it is a shame because we know that a lot of the big players have Champions League games and massive games at club level and this, probably for me, is my Champions League when I come over here.

`I know there have been times when I haven't performed or I've under-achieved a little bit but I think on the whole, my own philosophy is there are worse things that can happen and do happen so you've got to just play with a smile on your face as much as you can and enjoy training, coming in and being around some of the players that we've got here. And I do and to play at the stage that I have has been very, very fulfilling for me.

`I've been asked the question so many times. You guys have been asking me since I was 27-28, 'Am I going to retire?' You're probably telling me something aren't you!

`But I think it is in general the normal thing to do now, to retire very early. Lads are retiring at 21-22 in our case aren't they! 

`Everybody would tell you, you're away from your family for a couple of weeks at a time, and it can be hard on them but I just thoroughly enjoy playing.

`My wife has always been tremendously supportive of me, she knows what it means to me to play for Ireland so I think as long as she's supporting me and getting me out the door, I'll be playing.

`When you're a kid growing up you never dream that you'd play once. I can't say it's a dream to play 100 times because I honestly thought that never in a million years would I ever get anything like that.

`When I was a kid growing up no Irish player had ever played 100 times so it wasn't even really in my thinking but to be so close to it, it's great really and I can honestly say that I'm really proud to have played so many times. It will mean a lot.'

And Given will be alongside him too if they line up against Montenegro next week, with both their young families in attendance.

Eye of the Tiger: Kilbane tackles Fernando Torres on Hull duty

Few players are better placed to pay tribute to the Manchester City keeper who was given the unenviable task of replacing Packie Bonner all those years ago.

As friend and team-mate, the former Newcastle No 1 would stand alone on the world stage, and has proved to be among the best to play in the Barclays Premier League.

Kilbane said: `I think he's the best in the world, I really do, and I've said it for a long, long time. When Man City went out with all the money they've got to get one goalkeeper, they chose Shay Given, I think that says it all.

`People might say that he's not tall enough for the current game but he's as tall as me, he's over six foot, his stature is commanding, his voice, his shot-stopping, his bravery - when he had the perforated bowl that time, the challenge from that and to come back from that serious injury shows a lot of character.

`He's a tremendous goalkeeper first and foremost but I've got on with him so well over the years that I'd definitely consider him my friend and I'll speak to him a lot after we both finish.

`There's been so many memories together, we were talking about this last week, and we've been through a lot together on the pitch as well as off it.

Certainly when we first got into the squad there was a lot more off it to be fair. He's such a good guy to be around and we've socialised quite a lot together so I've got a lot of respect for Shay.'

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Source: Daily_Mail

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