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Kenny Cunningham Pays Beautiful, Tear-Inducing Tribute To Kevin Kilbane On 'Off The Ball'

Kenny Cunningham Pays Beautiful, Tear-Inducing Tribute To Kevin Kilbane On 'Off The Ball'
By Conall Cahill
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It's coming up to forty years since the momentous day when a certain Kevin Kilbane arrived onto this Earth, and as a result tonight's Off the Ball consisted of several former Kilbane team-mates and managers paying tribute to the former Republic of Ireland international. Lee Carsley, who played with Kilbane at Everton - and who has apparently spent about five months staying in Kilbane's gaff - came on to talk about his bromance with Kilbane, and Mick McCarthy came on to wish his former player a happy birthday.

But perhaps the greatest tribute was paid by Kenny Cunningham, who would have gone to war with Kilbane many times in the green jersey. Cunningham spoke affectionately about how he will "always picture" Kilbane "roasting his full-back, sticking out his telescopic Go-Go Gadget left leg" and whipping "precise balls continually into the box."

Cunningham spent a lot of his short period on air brilliantly ripping the piss out of Kilbane (and the Off the Ball crew as well, at points).

At one point he even decided to look into Kilbane's future:

I'll make a few predictions about Kevin Kilbane as I see it going forward over the next five years. One of four things are going to happen.

Number one: he's going to oust Gary Lineker as the new host of Match of the Day. Absolutely. And probably sign a ten-year advertising contract with Tayto crisps as well.

Secondly, he could well be the CEO of a top, top English club. Maybe even Preston North End. If not, maybe the FAI if John Delaney takes the top job at UEFA.

Thirdly, I think he could have a top ten single. And he's got a bit of form in that area already, which we all know about.

And lastly, I think he's a potential Celebrity Big Brother winner. If he puts himself out there. I'm watching Jedward at the moment in the Celebrity Big Brother, and Kevin Kilbane's fanbase is ten times as big as those youngsters. I'm telling you, he can call upon everybody: housewives, househusbands, the young and the old. It's an absolute certainty if he got himself into that Big Brother House.


Cunningham went on to praise how multi-talented Kilbane is, from his media work to running marathons, but it was at the very end that he had Kilbane, the Off the Ball lads and - we're not ashamed to admit it - Balls.ie wiping away the salty tears.


Cunningham was being thanked by presenter Nathan Murphy for his time, when he interjected.

KC: Have you got twenty seconds?

NM: Go on, of course we have twenty seconds for you, Kenny.

KC: Look, I'll be serious for a second. Look, as players we all talk about the special times, the experiences, Irish players in the Irish jersey. And a large part of that was the relationship with the supporters, at home and abroad. But for me, it was the people inside the dressing room that made it special.

And Kevin Kilbane was certainly one of those. I think he was selfless, on and off the pitch. And I consider myself very, very privileged to have spent time shoulder-to-shoulder with him and players like him.

Happy Birthday, Kev.

Kilbane and Murphy were clearly fairly blown away by Cunningham's words and just writing them out gets the lip quivering a bit. Lovely, lovely words from one Irish football legend to another.

You can listen to the whole Off the Ball segment in full here. Just make sure there's a box of tissues nearby.

SEE ALSO: 'What He's Done In His Life Is Just Exceptional': Kevin Kilbane On The Remarkable Antonio Valencia


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