On Wednesday night Given andKilbane become the second andthird Irishmen to play 100 timesfor the Republic, joining formercaptain and manager SteveStaunton, who had reached 102caps when he retired.
Mick McCarthy gave the pairtheir first caps during theRepublic's doomed World Cup 98campaign and admits he neverenvisaged they would be on theverge of smashing Staunton'srecord.
Ton up: Shay Given will make his 100th appearance for Republic of Ireland against Montenegro
Saturday's 2-2 draw with Italytook the close pals to 99 caps eachand they will reach their centurieswhen Montenegro visit CrokePark for a Group Eight gamewhich has become a dead rubberafter Ireland saw off Bulgaria'schallenge to clinch a World Cupqualification play-off.
McCarthy, boss at Wolves,recalled how Given, 33, dealt withBonner's shadow at a time whenthe former Celtic keeper, his boyhoodhero, was in the squad.
McCarthy said: 'I gave Shay hisdebut in my first game in chargeat home to Russia and we gotmurdered. He was not replacing amug in goal, he was replacing Packie, a big man's shoes to fill,but, even though he was still ateenager when he made his debut,he was comfortable with that fromday one and just got on with it.
'I watched him in training fromhis first day and he was throwinghimself around, pulling off themost amazing saves and he's stillthe same to this day. He's beenabsolutely outstanding.
'Can youremember him having a bad game?
Landmark: Kevin Kilbane will complete his century of international caps on Wednesday
'I could never understand whyone of the big teams didn't comein for him because they were allwatching him. I think that Shay isthe best keeper in the PremierLeague and one of the best in theworld.
'I know he's become morevocal and one of the senior players,and that doesn't surprise me.He takes his football very seriouslyand playing for Ireland means theworld to him.
'He's an outstandingbloke who's a fantastic characterto have in your squad. Playerslook up to him and he sets such aterrific example with his attitude. I can't imagine anyone getting inthe team ahead of him, or anyonebeing better.
'He's always wantedto turn up, train like a demon andplay, no matter what the occasionor opposition. I wouldn't changehim for the world. When he made his debut on thatmiserable night at LansdowneRoad, there's no way any of uscould have predicted he wouldmake 100 appearances.
'And likeKevin, it's a wonderful achievementand thoroughly deserved. I'mproud of both of 'em.'
McCarthy also managed Kilbaneat Sunderland before he wasforced to sell him to Everton. Hesays the Preston-born Hull man,who has played in three differentpositions for Phil Brown, is knownas Mr Reliable.
The 32-year-old was substitutedor substitute for seven of his firsteight games but is now on anincredible run of 57 consecutivecompetitive starts since a play-offdefeat by Turkey in November1999.
McCarthy added: 'I rememberKevin's debut well, too. It'snot unfair to say he didn't havethe best of days against Iceland. Ibrought Mark Kennedy on for himat half-time and he got sent off,but we went on to win 4-2.
'He's been fantastic, and notonly did I love him but Brian Kerrloved him, Steve Staunton lovedhim and Giovanni Trapattoni ispicking him. Four internationalmanagers have picked him formore than 50 consecutivematches.
'That says all you need toknow about 'Killer'.
The way we were: Kilbane (left) and Given (right) with former Republic of Ireland skipper Kenny Cunningham in 2004
'He was an integral part of myteam and gave us the balancewhich made us hard to beat.Kevin was not a flighty, trickywinger but he was effective inother ways and never afraid todefend and put his shift in.
'He was just 'Mr Reliable' for me.And I know he's been the same forevery manager he's played for.We're talking about people likePeter Reid, Steve Bruce, DavidMoyes and Phil Brown.
'And you could not wish to meeta nicer bloke. Kevin has had hiscritics, but he thoroughly deservesthe recognition he's now getting.'
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