Unlike many of those players he met and played with during his fourteen-year international career, Kevin Kilbane doesn't single Roy Keane out as one of the teammates that became a friend.
Shay Given, Kenny Cunningham, Gary Breen, Niall Quinn; these are individuals the 110-cap Kilbane keeps in contact with.
In Keane however, Kilbane realises that Ireland possessed a player that no opposing midfielder would relish an encounter with.
Speaking on Graham Hunter's Big Interview podcast, the former Sunderland, Everton and Wigan man described his captain's most treasured trait on the football pitch:
I think he recognised people's strengths on the pitch and he got them into the game.
Whether we were playing Holland, or Andorra, Estonia, it didn't matter. He would have influenced games very quickly. When you played alongside Roy, he raised levels within the squad.
Similarly citing the extent of Keane's passing ability and determination to keep every Irish player on their toes, Kilbane believes that had the former Manchester United midfielder traveled with his teammates all the way to the World Cup in 2002, taking on Brazil in the final was not beyond the realms of that squad's capabilities:
I think we would have topped our group, I think we would have put Spain out ... we probably should have anyway.
I think with Roy Keane Ireland would be finalists. If I look at how we played, and what our collective strengths were, and the individual qualities mixed in with that ... I think we would have ended up playing Germany in the semi-final, and I would have fancied us because we would have had experience of playing against them in the past.
Looking at Ireland's ability to bounce back from conceding early goals against Cameroon, Germany and Spain throughout the tournament, Kilbane concedes that he still feels sad thinking about what could have been during that tournament.