Neil Kilkenny

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Neil Kilkenny
Personal information
Full name Neil Martin Kilkenny[1]
Date of birth (1985-12-19) 19 December 1985 (age 31)[1]
Place of birth Enfield, England
Height 5 ft 8 in (1.73 m)[1]
Playing position Midfielder
Club information
Current team
Melbourne City
Number 8
Youth career
2002–2004 Arsenal
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2004–2008 Birmingham City 26 (0)
2004–2005 Oldham Athletic (loan) 27 (4)
2007–2008 Oldham Athletic (loan) 20 (1)
2008 Leeds United (loan) 1 (0)
2008–2011 Leeds United 122 (8)
2011–2014 Bristol City 68 (1)
2013–2014 Preston North End (loan) 7 (0)
2014–2016 Preston North End 68 (3)
2016– Melbourne City 25 (2)
National team
2003 England U-18 2 (0)
2003 Republic of Ireland U-19 1 (0)
2004–2005 England U-20 3 (0)
2007–2008 Australia U-23 10 (0)
2006– Australia 14 (0)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 23:40, 23 April 2017 (UTC).

Neil Martin Kilkenny (born 19 December 1985) is a football player who plays for Melbourne City. A midfielder, he began his career in the youth system at Arsenal, and went on to play league football for Oldham Athletic, Birmingham City, Leeds United, Bristol City and Preston North End before joining Melbourne City in 2016.

He has 14 caps for Australia, and competed for that country at the 2008 Olympics.

Early life and career[edit]

Born in Enfield, Middlesex, Kilkenny moved to Australia with his family at the age of four, and grew up in Brisbane.[2] A promising schoolboy footballer, he captained the Queensland schools' representative team. When Kilkenny was eleven, the family returned to England to maximise his chances of making a career in the game. At twelve, he was invited to join Arsenal's youth development scheme, and while a student at Ravenscroft School, Barnet, he played for Middlesex Schools and appeared for Arsenal's under-17 team.[2] In July 2002 he began a two-year scholarship programme in Arsenal's Academy.

By the 2003–04 season, he had graduated to Arsenal's under-19 team[3] and once been an unused substitute for the reserves,[4] and had played international football for Republic of Ireland under-19s, qualifying via Irish paternal grandparents, and for England under-18s.[5] However, he became unhappy at Arsenal, chose to leave the club, and after trials with clubs including Aston Villa, Manchester City[5] and Leicester City,[6] he joined Birmingham City on a free transfer in January 2004.

Club career[edit]

Birmingham City and loans[edit]

Kilkenny signed a two-and-a-half-year contract with Birmingham. The club's academy director felt he had "the ability to play at the highest level", and prioritised adding a "work ethic and competitiveness" to his "great technique".[7] The player travelled with the first team for the game at Charlton Athletic in April 2004,[8] but was not included in the matchday squad.[9] Perceived as not ready for the first team at Premier League level, he was loaned to League One club Oldham Athletic in November 2004 to gain first-team experience.[10] He made his debut in the Football League as a second-half substitute in Oldham's 3–2 win at home to Barnsley on 20 November, and scored two goals in his second game, a 3–1 win away to Bradford City, four days later.[11] He played a full part in Oldham's season: he took the free kick which led to the winning goal against Premier League Manchester City in the FA Cup,[12] and ended up as winner of the club's Players' Young Player of the Season award.[13]

At the start of the 2005–06 season he became part of the Birmingham first-team squad, though manager Steve Bruce warned him that he would not easily find his way into the team.[14] On 20 September 2005, he made his Birmingham first-team debut in the League Cup away at Scunthorpe United, as a 26th-minute substitute to replace the injured Muzzy Izzet.[15] Four days later, with six other midfielders unavailable through injury or suspension,[16] he made his full home debut against Liverpool in the Premier League, in which he was sent off late in the game for handling the ball on the goal-line, thus giving Liverpool a penalty and a 2–2 draw. Despite his dismissal, he received words of encouragement from team mates Mikael Forssell and Mario Melchiot for his performance,[14] and went on to make 25 appearances in all competitions, mainly as substitute, as Birmingham were relegated to the Football League Championship.[17] The following season Kilkenny's appearances were infrequent; he started only two games, both in the League Cup.[18] The player became frustrated; while part of the first-team squad, he was rarely part of the first team, yet Bruce was reluctant to allow him out on loan.[19]

It was announced on 30 July 2007 that Kilkenny would again join Oldham on loan until January 2008.[20] The move was blocked following the collapse of Birmingham's purchase of Hossam Ghaly, but was confirmed a few days later.[21] His last match before he returned to Birmingham was an influential performance as Oldham beat Leeds United 3–1 to become the first team that season to win a League game at Elland Road.[22][23]

Leeds United[edit]

2008–09 season[edit]

On 4 January 2008 Kilkenny signed for League One team Leeds United on an emergency loan, with a view to ensuring his availability for the next day's game prior to completing a permanent transfer the following week.[24] He made his debut in the 3–0 win over Northampton Town, putting in an impressive performance to get the man of the match award.[25] Kilkenny signed a three-and-a-half-year permanent contract with Leeds on 7 January for a fee of £150,000.[26][27] He scored his first goal for the club in their 2–0 win against A.F.C. Bournemouth in March.[28] Leeds went on to reach the play-off Final that season but lost 1–0 against Doncaster Rovers.[28] He was then called up to the Australian Olympic team during the summer and missed all of pre-season training for Leeds as a result.[29] After a period out of the team and the sacking of Gary McAllister Kilkenny regained a spot in the Leeds midfield under the stewardship of new manager Simon Grayson late in the 2008–09 season.[30]

His 43rd-minute goal against Yeovil Town on 10 March 2009 was a leading contender for the goal of the season.[citation needed] He followed this up with goals in the 3–2 win against Crewe Alexandra and the 3–1 win against Tranmere Rovers.[31] Kilkenny was part of the Leeds team who were knocked out of the play-off semi finals by Millwall; he injured an ankle and was substituted in the first half of the second leg at Elland Road.[32]

2009–10 season[edit]

Doncaster made their interest in signing Kilkenny public during the summer but Grayson made it clear that he was not for sale.[33] After again missing pre-season, this time because of ankle trouble, Kilkenny found himself trying to regain fitness and a place on the bench once the season was in full flow. With seven substitutes required for the 2009–10 season, he was used mainly as an impact substitute in the early part of the season.[34]

Kilkenny started his first league game of the season in the top-of-the-table goalless draw with Charlton Athletic[34] and also started the next game in the Football League Trophy win against Darlington.[35] He scored his first goal of the season for Leeds in the 3–1 win against Grimsby Town in the Trophy, "[playing] a give-and-go with Jermaine Beckford before tucking the ball into the far corner".[36] Kilkenny also received the man of the match award in the same game.[34] He scored in his next match, against Brighton & Hove Albion, as well as providing an assist for Beckford,[37] and made it three in five when he scored against his former club Oldham.[35] Kilkenny's fourth goal of the season came in December, with a rare header against Accrington Stanley,[38] and a few days later he provided yet another assist when he set up Beckford's first goal against Hartlepool United.[39]

Kilkenny played against Manchester United when Leeds won 1–0 away at Old Trafford on 3 January in the FA Cup.[40] He was at the heart of Leeds' midfield for Leeds in the 2–2 draw with Tottenham Hotspur in the next round of the FA Cup.[41] He missed the cup replay through injury, and returned to the bench against Carlisle United in the Football League Trophy Northern Final second leg.[42] He came on as a second-half substitute and put in an impressive performance for Leeds in a 3–2 victory, also having a scuffle with his teammate Max Gradel during injury time, although Leeds ended up losing the tie after losing the penalty shootout 6–5, with Kilkenny converting one of the penalties for Leeds.[citation needed]

Kilkenny came back into the starting line-up for the next game against Leyton Orient after fully recovering from his injury.[citation needed] He played an instrumental part as Leeds were promoted to the Football League Championship after finishing second in League One and thus earning automatic promotion.[citation needed]

2010–11 season[edit]

Kilkenny scored his first goal of the 2010–11 season with a penalty in the League Cup match against Lincoln City.[43] He made several assists for Leeds in the first few weeks of the season,[citation needed] including two, for Jonathan Howson and Davide Somma, in Leeds' 5–2 defeat against Barnsley.[44] After being ever-present for Leeds, Kilkenny was named on the bench for the game against Sheffield United.[45] In November, Kilkenny entered negotiations with Leeds over extending his contract[46] amid interest from other clubs.[47]

Kilkenny said in December that he was keen to sign a new contract with Leeds.[48] Kilkenny was named in Australia's final 23-man squad for the 2011 Asian Cup in January 2011, so would miss a month of Leeds' season;[49] he said he was "gutted" to be missing the FA Cup tie against his old club Arsenal.[50]

In January he repeated his desire to stay with Leeds,[51] He returned from international duty to be named on the bench against Hull City.[52] He scored his first league goal of the season with a "spectacular 20-yard shot" against Preston North End.[53] At the end of the season, it became clear that club and player were unlikely to agree terms on a new contract,[54][55] and on 26 May, manager Simon Grayson said that neither Kilkenny nor his agent had responded to the club's offer and he was "keen to move on" in terms of planning for next season.[56] Kilkenny said that despite speculation linking him with a move to the Australian A-League, he wanted "to play at the highest level and that's in Europe".[57]

Bristol City[edit]

On 16 June 2011, Kilkenny showed an interest in moving to Leeds' Yorkshire rivals Hull City.[58] On 24 June, he signed for fellow Championship team Bristol City on a three-year contract after turning down offers from Leeds and from other Championship clubs.[59] Ahead of his return to Elland Road with Bristol City on 17 September, he told the Yorkshire Evening Post he had never wanted to leave the club,[60] and in response to Leeds' chairman Ken Bates' comment that "Kilkenny wanted to leave for a big club and ended up at Bristol City", he felt that Bates "has always got something to say and sometimes he needs to keep quiet."[61] Kilkenny scored his first goal for Bristol City in that match.[62]

On 29 March 2013, Kilkenny reached his 250th career league appearance with Bristol City against Derby County.

Preston North End[edit]

Kilkenny joined Preston North End on 14 November 2013 on an initial one-month loan.[63] On 6 January 2014, he signed for the club permanently until the end of the season.[64]

Kilkenny was released at the end of the 2015–16 season.[65]

Melbourne City[edit]

On 19 July 2016, Kilkenny joined A-League club Melbourne City on a two-year deal.[66] He made his first appearance in a City shirt in a 5-0 friendly match win over Port Melbourne SC on 20 July 2016.[67]

Kilkenny's performances over the season earned Melbourne City's Player of the Year award for 2016–17.[68]

International career[edit]

Kilkenny was born in England, had Irish grandparents, moved to Australia at a young age and grew up there,[30] so was eligible to play internationally for Australia, England and the Republic of Ireland. He played for Ireland at under-19 level and for England under-20s,[5] but shortly before the 2006 World Cup he committed to Australia. He was among a group of young players, selected by manager Guus Hiddink, who trained with the Australian squad in Germany prior to the tournament, and made his international debut on 7 June 2006, coming on as a late substitute in their 3–1 victory in a World Cup warm-up game against Liechtenstein in Ulm, Germany.[69]

In 2007, he was a part of the Australian Olyroos for the 2008 Beijing Olympics qualifying campaign. In June 2008 he was one of 33 players called up for a pre-Olympic training camp prior to selection of the final 18-man squad.[70] He was included in the final 18-man squad and played one game in the Olympics for Australia, who were knocked out in the group stages.[71][72] After Leeds' FA Cup win over Manchester United put Kilkenny back on the international radar, Australia sent scouts to watch him as a possibility for the 2010 World Cup squad, but manager Pim Verbeek did not select him.[73]

In December 2010, Kilkenny was selected in Australia's 23-man squad for the 2011 Asian Cup.[49] Kilkenny came on as a second-half substitute against United Arab Emirates in a warm-up game for the Asian Cup.[74] He played his first game in the Asian Cup when he came on as a second-half substitute against Bahrain. In the quarter-final match, against reigning champions Iraq, Kilkenny made an appearance in the 109th minute, during a 1–0 win.[75] He was a late substitute in the final, which Australia lost 1–0 to Japan after extra time.[76]

Kilkenny played for Australia in the 3–0 win over New Zealand and goalless draw with Serbia in June 2011.[77][78]



Leeds United

Preston North End




Career statistics[edit]

As of match played 23 April 2017
Appearances and goals by club, season and competition
Club Season League FA Cup League Cup Other Total
Division Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Birmingham City 2004–05[79] Premier League 0 0 0 0 0 0
2005–06[80] Premier League 18 0 4 0 3 0 25 0
2006–07[81] Championship 8 0 3 0 3 0 14 0
Total 26 0 7 0 6 0 39 0
Oldham Athletic (loan) 2004–05[79] League One 27 4 3 0 4[a] 1 34 5
Oldham Athletic 2007–08[28] League One 20 1 3 1 1 1 1[a] 0 25 3
Total 47 5 6 1 1 1 5 1 59 8
Leeds United 2007–08[28] League One 16 1 3[b] 0 19 1
2008–09[31] League One 30 4 1 0 3 0 4[c] 0 38 4
2009–10[35] League One 35 2 5 0 3 0 5[a] 2 48 4
2010–11[43] Championship 37 1 0 0 2 1 39 2
Total 118 8 6 0 8 1 12 2 144 11
Bristol City 2011–12[62] Championship 41 1 1 0 1 0 43 1
2012–13[82] Championship 24 0 0 0 0 0 24 0
2013–14[83] League One 3 0 2 0 0 0 5 0
Total 68 1 1 0 3 0 0 0 72 1
Preston North End 2013–14[83] League One 27 2 4 0 1[b] 0 32 2
2014–15[84][85] League One 35 0 5 0 2 1 7[d] 0 49 1
2015–16[86] Championship 13 1 0 0 2 0 15 1
Total 75 3 9 0 4 1 8 0 96 4
Melbourne City 2016–17[87] A-League 25 2 4 0 —|colspan=2|— 29 2
Career total 359 19 33 1 22 3 25 3 439 26
  1. ^ a b c Appearances in Football League Trophy
  2. ^ a b Appearances in Football League One play-offs
  3. ^ Two appearances in Football League Trophy, two in League One play-offs
  4. ^ Four appearances in Football League Trophy, three in League One play-offs


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External links[edit]