KEVIN KILBANE said he will look back without regret after officially confirming his retirement from football over the weekend.
The veteran former Irish international made the decision to pack it in due to a persistent back injury that had taken away his enjoyment of the game. He joined Coventry in the summer but had not lined out for the League One outfit since October.
"Playing in the World Cup was the huge highlight," he told Newstalk. "To play in a World Cup is an extraordinary thing to do and I'm very proud to be part of that squad. I also played at Everton, Sunderland and Wigan, really good Premier League clubs. I can't have too many regrets. I look back with a lot of happiness.
"There is a bit of relief. It's been hanging over me for the last few weeks but it's definitely the right decision. There's a hint of sadness because it's everything I've known since I left school at 16. It's sad because it's the end of an era for me."
Kilbane, or 'Zinedine Kilbane' as he was affectionately nicknamed, went through several transitions in the course of his football journey.
He made the breakthrough as a left winger and Mick McCarthy installed him in the Irish side in that role, setting Kilbane off on a remarkable run of 66 consecutive competitive appearances – he was also a fixture under Brian Kerr and Steve Staunton and for the first three years of Giovanni Trapattoni's tenure.
Under Kerr, he shone as a central midfielder, particularly in the scoreless draw with France in Paris back in 2004. He described Roy Keane as the best player he ever soldiered with, and they formed an effective temporary partnership.
In the latter years, his versatility was utilised by Trapattoni when he needed a left-back. He started on the Euros journey before time caught up with him.
Kilbane will now concentrate on media work and his family as he weighs up the possibility of a coaching career.