Saturday 19 October 2019

'There was a lot of discrimination towards Irish people living over in England' - Kevin Kilbane

Ireland's Kevin Kilbane celebrates a goal for his country
Ireland's Kevin Kilbane celebrates a goal for his country

Kevin Kilbane has talked about discrimination against the Irish growing up in England as the former Ireland international went into detail about his opinion on Declan Rice's decision to consider an England call up.

Promising teenager Rice - who has three caps for Ireland - has told Martin O'Neill that he needs time to decide his international future following extensive talks with England manager Gareth Southgate.

Ireland face Wales in the Nations League on September 6 and should Rice be capped in that match, his international future with the Boys In Green would be secured.

But due to a FIFA ruling, whereby international allegiance can change until a player is capped professionally, Rice has chosen to opt out.

His decision has sparked heated debate and hard-hitting comments and on Monday evening Kilbane tweeted: "I'd rather be ranked 150th in the world and never qualify again than have someone who has played, but needs time to THINK whether they should play for us again. Well done to MON for transparency."

Richie Sadlier described Kilbane's opinion as "monumental bollocks" on Second Captains earlier this week and speaking on LOI Weekly, Killbane again addressed the situation.

Read more here:

"I feel as tough I am in a more qualified position than anyone to speak on this. You know my backround, you know exactly where I am at," Kilbane told hosts Dan McDonnell and Johnny Ward.

"I don't want to go over the old ground…I grew up in England at a time when, in my mind, there was a lot of discrimination towards Irish people living over in England, particularly before my generation when my man and dad moved over.

"My dad grew up uneducated out on the roads and it was the working man that was targeted at times. We were all tarred with the same brush.

"That is probably still in me and I can't get away from that fact so anyone who is going to shoot me down and say it's a bollocks tweet that I put out….

"I was called up for England and I knew straight away in my head 'no'. I never wanted to play for England. I'd never been called up for Ireland at this stage and it wasn't even likely that I was going to be called up for Ireland.

"I was called up for England and I said no straight away. The level I was playing with at the time I would say the very least, the very least I would have been playing for England was Under-21s.

"But it was never going to be on the agenda for me so regardless of whether I got an Ireland cap, I never once would have played for England.

"I understand we are in a different world now, we are in a different climate. People saying, and I have read about it, that it's a complicated issue. In my mind it isn't. It's straight forward, it's clear."

Kilbane described how Irish communities got together in 'Irish centres' every week when he was a youngster and that these values were very much part of defining who you were.

McDonnell suggested that Rice's situation is slightly different and that he may not have experienced the same scenarios as Kilbane. 

"I take what people are saying but I don't believe in it. I believe totally in what I am saying," added Kilbane.

"If you've got to think about playing, particularly after you have played even once at whatever level, that's it. You have made your choice in my mind.

"At senior international level, if you've got to think about being called up for the squad, it doesn't wash with me. Personally, I wouldn't pick him again."

Listen from one hour and one minute:

Online Editors

The Left Wing: Welcome to Irish rugby's biggest week - is an upset on the cards?

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport