Sunday, January 18, 2009

Kilbane eager to continue international career

Eleven years on from winning his first Ireland cap, a hunger for international football continues to inspire Kevin Kilbane.

Fearful of damaging his prospects by sitting in the Wigan shadows, January needed to bring a fresh challenge. With the promise of first-team football, a £500,000 move to Hull City has delivered Kilbane's wish. And while preserving City's Premier League status remains his more pressing concern, Kilbane hopes a two-and-a-half year deal can help bring personal glory on the international stage.

Just eight caps short of a century, the 31-year-old is second only to Steve Staunton in Ireland's all-time appearance list.

Given the magnitude of the looming milestone, Kilbane is understandably reluctant to tempt fate. But with fresh challenges bringing a skip to his step, the winger has boosted his chances.

"If you're not playing regular club football then you're putting your international place in jeopardy" said Kilbane.

"Getting to 100 is something that's been mentioned to me in the past and it's something that I've always tried to play down.

"Just to get one cap is really an amazing achievement.

"I'll see how it goes and hopefully I can play regular football now.

"If it comes then brilliant but if I don't get to 100, then I'll still be very happy with what I've achieved in international football."

Since making his Ireland bow against Iceland in 1997, Kilbane has enjoyed a rich history on the international stage.

Facing Montenegro last year, he featured in his 50th consecutive competitive game for his country - only England's Billy Wright and Theo Zagorakis of Greece have achieved longer unbroken runs.

Within the game, his unassuming nature and commitment has made him a popular figure in the trenches and a reliable stalwart for a string of managers.

Away from football, Kilbane shows a similar passion for his charity work.

In 2004, daughter Elsie was born with Down's Syndrome and her father works tirelessly as a patron for the condition's leading charity.

Nearing his 32nd birthday, Kilbane still has an enthusiasm reserved for the young.

Arriving as City's first January signing this week, he walked out on Wigan's impressive campaign for a side heading in the opposite direction.

But in signing for the Tigers, Kilbane could not be happier.

"If I'm being truthful, it was probably a couple of months ago I began thinking it was time for a change" he said.

"Even when things weren't going well for Wigan this season, I still wasn't getting in the side.

"I began to get a good feeling that you're not going to be selected over the coming months. You know when the writing is on the wall.

"As soon as I knew of Hull's interest, I wanted to come over and play."

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