Kilbane played 110 times for Ireland. Ryan Byrne/INPHO

'I'd rather have one cap for Ireland than 100 caps for England' - Kilbane

The ex-Ireland utility man is disappointed with Jack Grealish’s latest decision.

FORMER IRELAND INTERNATIONAL Kevin Kilbane admits that he is sad to see the Jack Grealish choose England over Ireland.

20-year-old Aston Villa prospect Grealish announced yesterday that he plans to switch allegiance to his country of birth having played up to U21 level for the Boys in Green.

“I knew from an early age so I’m very different from Jack in that respect,” former Everton man turned pundit Kilbane told BBC 5 Live.

“It was a difficult decision for him to make. He has been nurtured from the FAI and from the youths levels. He has played not just at U21 but at youth level with us.

“I’m disappointed with the decision because I think he would have been a great addition to the Irish squad.”

Unlike Grealish, Kilbane never had any doubt in his mind which country he wanted to represent at international level.

The Preston-born left-sided player, who was brought up by Irish parents, remembers receiving a call-up to England’s U18s squad while coming up through the ranks at his local club.

“I grew up wanting to play for Ireland, I think that’s probably well-documented,” he recalls. ”I was called up for England at youth level and I turned it down as I didn’t want to play for them.”

He added: “I’d rather have one cap for Ireland than 100 caps for England. I might not have played at senior level for England, I don’t know how it would have gone for me further down the line.

“I can’t know how my career would had gone if I had taken the decision early but that is what I felt at 17-18.”

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