'I would rather have had one cap for Ireland than 100 with England' - Kevin Kilbane
Published 29/09/2015 | 09:56
Kevin Kilbane has claimed he would rather have made a solitary appearance for the Republic of Ireland than win a century of caps in England colours.
Preston-born Kilbane turned down the chance to play for England at junior levels before going on to play in Ireland 110 times between 1997 and 2011.
After Jack Grealish decided to turn down an opportunity to launch a senior international career with Ireland and commit his future to England, Kilbane has told the BBC that the Aston Villa midfielder has made a difficult decision to walk away from years of development with the Football Association of Ireland.
“I grew up in an Irish family wanting to play for Ireland,” stated Kilbane. “I was called up at youth level for England, but I turned it down, I didn’t want to play for them. I am very different to Jack in that respect.
“It has been a difficult decision for Jack to make because he has been nurtured at youth level and under-21 level by the FAI.
“I’m disappointed with his decision because I think he would have been a great addition to the Ireland side.
“It comes down to personal choice. I would rather have had one cap for Ireland than 100 with England. I don’t know if I would have ever played for England, I don’t know how my career would have gone. That is what I felt at 17, 18.
“Both my parents were born in Ireland and that was always my decision. I was supporting Ireland at Euro’88 and Italia’90, that is where I was.”
Grealish will now push his claims to try and earn a place in Roy Hodgson’s England squad for next summer’s European Championship finals in France.