Still on the ball
IT pays to have a thick skin in team sports, all the more so when you’re the son of Irish immigrants playing professional football in England. Though born and reared in Preston, Lancashire, growing up Kevin Kilbane was frequently reminded of his heritage — his father is from Co Mayo and a mother from Co Longford — and he learned early on not to let the jibes upset him. “I would be called a plastic paddy many the time. You laugh it off,” says the 41year-old who has had 110 caps for Ireland.
“When I left school at 16 I would have been the sort of lad who would have reacted or may have been quite sensitive to things like that. You’ve got to learn quickly that any sort of criticism you would get you’ve got to take it on the chin. In general, I think it’s held me in good stead I wouldn’t be too concerned about things that would be thrown at me now.”
He is now based in Dublin, working as a sports journalist. He also has a place in Manchester where his children live.
Elsie is aged 14 and has Down syndrome and Isla is two years younger. “They are unbelievable. They are very, very good together,” he says.
In the long term, he plans to spend more time in Ireland. “I love Dublin. I think over the next few years I’ll probably be even more permanent here once my daughters get to an age where they are probably a little less reliant on me — if they are ever less reliant on you.” What shape are you in? I run 10k two or three times a week. I’m in relatively decent shape. I’ll try and step it up when I’m going towards the half marathon in August. Three or four years ago, I was running sub-130 half marathons, to be fair I’m probably not in that sort of shape now.
When I was playing football I was in the gym every single day without fail. Since I’ve finished, I just like to get out and have a run. There have been spells when I have done a bit of gym work — my back is something that I’ve got concerns about and I do some strengthening exercises. What are your healthiest eating habits? I find it quite difficult to have a healthy lifestyle from a diet point of view. I live on my own and you end up thinking — it’s easier to go out and get a takeaway or whatever. When I have my daughters with me, it encourages me to cook for them. I always try to have greens — veg or salad. I enjoy cooking but I don’t necessarily like cooking when it’s just for myself. What are your guiltiest pleasures? I’ve got a really sweet tooth. I wouldn’t be adverse to a nice Cadbury’s Mint Crisp or a sponge pudding and custard. My granny was always one to cook rhubarb crumbles and pies. What would keep you awake at night? I’ve got quite a busy schedule work wise. I normally wouldn’t be finished until 10.30 at night. By the time I’ve wound down and by the time I’m relaxed, it’s the early hours of the morning before I get some sleep. How do you relax? Running for the mental side of it — to clear the head and to get yourself sorted. When I’m out running, I like to listen to podcasts. I enjoy music and reading biographies. Centaur, about retired jockey Declan Murphy who had a serious head injury due to a riding fall, is one of my favourite books over
the last year. Who would you invite to your dream dinner party? Noel Gallagher; Pele, one of the greatest footballers ever; Mary McAleese, someone who has achieved so much in her lifetime. I think that would be a great combination. What’s your favourite smell? Home cooking — bread. What would you like to change about your appearance? I’m not the sort of fellow who gets hung up on how he looks. I’ve always been quite comfortable with who I am. When is the last time you cried? I’d be seen regularly crying at a film or a TV series. I’m a bit of a softie since my first daughter was born. What traits do you least like in others? Rudeness. What traits do you least like about yourself? Tardiness — without a doubt. Do you pray? I’d pray for my daughters’ well-being and general happiness. What would cheer up your day? I’m quite happy go lucky in general.
What would make it even better, is if my flight is on time and everything runs smoothly from a traveling side of things. This week, I’m on six flights, in general, it would be at least two.
They are mostly between Dublin and Manchester.
“I’m quite happy go lucky in general”
Kevin Kilbane is an ambassador for the Affidea RocknRoll Half Marathon. See www.runrocknroll.com/dublin for details. FOOTIE FIT: Former Republic of Ireland soccer player Kevin Kilbane is an ambassador for the Affidea Rock’n’Roll Half Marathon.