Kevin Kilbane believes the Republic of Ireland should be more focused on finding and cultivating Irish talent than holding out hope for the castaways from England.
Much has been made about the possibility of English players declaring for Ireland in recent years, with the respective sagas of Jack Grealish and Declan Rice making quite a few headlines, but Kevin Kilbane is of the belief that too much emphasis is put on attempts to convince English players to switch allegiances.
In a discussion with football writer Miguel Delaney on the subject of Jack Grealish, who represented Ireland at underage level before ultimately making clear his preference for England, Kilbane explained that he would never have wanted to play for England despite being born there.
“The only issue is to why we’re actively trying to pursue young players to say they’re Irish. He’s English!” Kilbane said of Grealish.
“Fair play to him but he should never have declared for us. Our attitude should change not theirs. I could never have played for England no matter what the level.”
Kilbane, whose parents are Irish, was given the opportunity to play for England at U18 level but declined as he always wanted to represent Ireland.
One of a handful of men to have represented Ireland more than 100 times, Kilbane even insisted that he wouldn’t want to see the likes of Leeds United forward Patrick Bamford declare for Ireland due to doubts about his passion for the Boys in Green.
“Very few feel Irish but know of an Irish FAMILY MEMBER,” Kilbane explained. “I’ve heard the ‘They buy into us’ rubbish but the reality is they never saw themselves in a green shirt and we’re the second option.
I don’t agree. Very few feel Irish but know of an Irish FAMILY MEMBER.. I’ve heard the “They buy into us” rubbish but the reality is they never saw themselves in a green shirt and we’re the second option. I honestly wouldn’t want them Bamford included.
— Kevin Kilbane (@kdkilbane77) November 16, 2020
“I honestly wouldn’t want them, Bamford included.”
Bamford is eligible to declare for Ireland via the grandparent rule but he has made it very clear in recent months that he is hoping for an England call-up after an incredible start to the Premier League season with seven goals in eight games.
Bamford, who was named PFA Fans’ Player of the Month for September and October, has described a potential England call-up as a dream of his which essentially backs Kilbane’s point up.
🙌 No recount demands for this one! Patrick Bamford has been voted the @PFA Fans' Player of the Month for September and October!
— Leeds United (@LUFC) November 16, 2020