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Neil Kilkenny
Personal information
Full name Neil Martin Kilkenny
Date of birth 19 December 1985 (1985-12-19) (age 24)
Place of birth Enfield, England
Height 5 ft 8 in (1.73 m)
Playing position Central midfielder
Club information
Current club Leeds United
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] 1 (0)
2008– Leeds United 69 (7)
National team
2007–2008 Australia U-23 10 (0)
2006– Australia 2 (0)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 21:12, 18 February 2010 (UTC).

† Appearances (Goals).

‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 08:12, 12 September 2009 (UTC)

Neil Martin Kilkenny (born 19 December 1985) is an English-born Australian football player who plays for Leeds United and the Australian National Side after being capped by Guus Hiddink. He is a midfielder. He is renowned for his passing ability.


Early life and career

Born in Enfield, Middlesex, Kilkenny moved to Australia with his family at the age of four, and grew up in Brisbane. 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 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


Birmingham City and loans

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

On 4 January 2008 Kilkenny signed for 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.[1] Kilkenny signed a three-and-a-half year permanent contract with Leeds on 7 January 2008 for a fee of £150,000.[25][26] A few weeks after Kilkenny signed manager Dennis Wise left the club to join Newcastle United, Wise was replaced by Gary McAllister as Leeds' manager. Kilkenny scored his first goal for the club in their 2-0 win against A.F.C. Bournemouth, in March 2008. Leeds went on to reach the playoff finals that season but lost 1-0 in the final against Doncaster Rovers. 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, 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 2008-2009 season.

His 43rd minute goal against Yeovil on 10 Mar 2009 was a leading contender for the goal of the season. He then followed up with goals in the 3-2 win against Crewe Alexandra and the 3-1 win against Tranmere Rovers. Kilkenny was part of the Leeds United team who were knocked out of the playoff semi finals, with him being injured and having to be substituted in the first half of the second leg Vs Millwall at Elland Road. Many observers saw this as a big turning point in the tie, as Leeds lost the fluidity of Kilkenny's passing ability.

Doncaster Rovers made their interest to sign Kilkenny public during the summer but Leeds knocked back any approaches for Kilkenny. After missing the entire pre season of 2009-10 through the injury he sustained against Millwall (the second pre season in a row he missed). Kilkenny found himself trying to regain fitness and a place on the bench for Leeds United once the season was in full flow. With 7 subs required for the 2009-10 season Kilkenny originally found himself used mainly as a substitute in games earlier in the season, coming on in games to try make an impact.

Kilkenny started his first league game of the season in the top of the table 0-0 draw against Charlton Athletic and also started the next game in the JPT win against Darlington. Kilkenny scored his first goal of the season for Leeds in the 3-1 win against Grimsby, the goal rounding off a fine passing move and a one-two with Jermaine Beckford, before calmly stroking the ball into the bottom right corner. Kilkenny also received the man of the match award in the same game. Kilkenny scored in the game against Brighton & Hove Albion making it 2 goals in two games. He also provided an assist for Jermaine Beckford and got his second man of the match award in a row. Kilkenny scored his third goal of the season against his former club Oldham Athletic the goal was assisted by Max Gradel and it was Kilkenny's 3rd goal in his last 5 games. Kilkenny's 4th goal of the season came against Accrington Stanley with a rare headed goal, and carrying on his impressive goalscoring form. Kilkenny gained yet another assist for Leeds when he set up Jermaine Beckford's first goal against Hartlepool United.

Kilkenny put in a heroic performance against Manchester United when Leeds won 1-0 away to Old Trafford on January 3rd in the FA Cup. Kilkenny was at the heart of the midfield for Leeds when they earned a 2-2 draw against Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup on 23rd January 2010. Kilkenny was substituted against Swindon Town, and was omitted from Leeds' lineup against Colchester United after being ruled out by injury. The injury also forced him to miss the FA Cup replay at Elland Road against Tottenham Hotspur and the league 1 game against Hartlepool F.C.. Kilkenny returned to the bench for Leeds after injury against Carlisle United in the JPT Northern Final second leg. He came on as a second half substitute and put in an impressive performance for Leeds who won the game 3-2, Kilkenny also had a scuffle with his teammate Max Gradel during injury time,Leeds ended up losing the tie after losing the penalty shootout 6-5, with Kilkenny converting one of the penalties for Leeds.

Kilkenny came back into the starting lineup for the next game against Leyton Orient after fully recovering from his injury.

Kilkenny is currently sponsored by the Scarborough Branch of the Leeds United Member's Club.

International career

Kilkenny was born in England but having moved to Australia at a young age,where he grew up, he was eligible to play internationally for Australia, England and Ireland.[27] Shortly before the 2006 FIFA World Cup he committed to play for Australia. He was among a group of young players, selected by manager Guus Hiddink, who trained with the Australian squad in Holland and Germany prior to the tournament. Guus Hiddink claimed that Kilkenny was one of the brightest young prospects for Australian football. Kilkenny made his international debut for Australia 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.

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.[28]. He was included in the final 18-man squad and did manage to play one game in the olympics for Australia, who were knocked out in the group stages. After the Manchester United win for Leeds, Australia have sent scouts to watch Kilkenny with regards to Australia's World Cup Squad with the match providing to be a high profile game to put Kilkenny back on the World Cup radar.


Kilkenny featured on Soccer AM's teammates section with his teammate Jermaine Beckford where they were both asked questions about their Leeds United teammates. The following week he and Beckford also featured on Soccer AM's Bullseye Darts challenge, where Kilkenny lost out to Beckford, who took 17 darts to hit the bullseye, Kilkenny on the other hand took over 100 darts to do it.


  1. ^ a b "Neil seals deal". Leeds United A.F.C.. 7 January 2008.,,10273~1208327,00.html. Retrieved 2008-01-07. 
  2. ^ Pollard, John (29 May 2002). "Neil gunning for Premiership glory with Arsenal" (reprint). Barnet & Potters Bar Times (NewsBank). Retrieved 3 January 2010. 
  3. ^ "Youth Team Page 2003/2004". ArseWeb. Retrieved 3 January 2010. 
  4. ^ "Reserve Team Page 2003/2004". ArseWeb. Retrieved 3 January 2010. 
  5. ^ a b Finn, Stephen (15 November 2003). "English 'nicking all our top kids'" (reprint). The Sun (NewsBank). Retrieved 3 January 2010. 
  6. ^ "Reserves pegged back for a point after Brooker strike" (reprint). Leicester Mercury (NewsBank). 11 December 2003. Retrieved 3 January 2010. 
  7. ^ Hall, Stewart (3 April 2004). "Stewart Hall, Blues' Academy director, gives his appraisal of Blues' rising stars" (reprint). Sports Argus (Birmingham) (NewsBank). Retrieved 3 January 2010. 
  8. ^ Tattum, Colin (16 April 2004). "Blues Teen Adventure!" (reprint). Birmingham Evening Mail (NewsBank). Retrieved 3 January 2010. 
  9. ^ Haylett, Trevor (18 April 2004). "Holland saves the day". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 3 January 2010. 
  10. ^ "Five-star Kilkenny". Manchester Evening News. 20 November 2004. Retrieved 5 January 2010. 
  11. ^ Austin, Fred (29 November 2004). "Kid Kilkenny's explosive debut". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 5 January 2010. 
  12. ^ "Oldham 1-0 Man City". BBC Sport. 8 January 2005. Retrieved 5 January 2010. 
  13. ^ "Awards evening a huge success". Oldham Athletic A.F.C. 16 May 2005.,,10337~665622,00.html. Retrieved 5 January 2010. 
  14. ^ a b Tattum, Colin (26 September 2005). "Kilkenny tipped to hit the heights". Birmingham Evening Mail. Retrieved 5 January 2010. 
  15. ^ Gubba, Ron (21 September 2005). "Forssell's double delight". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 5 January 2010. 
  16. ^ "Birmingham City v Liverpool team news". RTÉ Sport. 23 September 2005. Retrieved 5 January 2010. 
  17. ^ "Birmingham 2005/2006 player appearances". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 5 January 2010. 
  18. ^ "Birmingham 2006/2007 player appearances". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 5 January 2010. 
  19. ^ Sutcliffe, Richard (23 May 2008). "Leeds star Kilkenny driven by Birmingham rejection". Yorkshire Post. Retrieved 5 January 2010. 
  20. ^ Dunn, Alex (30 July 2009). "Latics seal Blues move". Sky Sports.,19528,12875_2628652,00.html. Retrieved 5 January 2010. 
  21. ^ "Kilkenny switch is finally sealed". BBC Sport. 12 August 2007. Retrieved 5 January 2010. 
  22. ^ Hay, Phil (5 January 2008). "Leeds United close in on Johnson". Yorkshire Evening Post. Retrieved 5 January 2010. 
  23. ^ "Leeds 1-3 Oldham". BBC Sport. 1 January 2008. Retrieved 5 January 2010. 
  24. ^ "Leeds United swoop for Birmingham City midfielder". Yorkshire Evening Post. 4 January 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-04. 
  25. ^ "Leeds get Kilkenny but not Morgan". BBC. 7 January 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-07. 
  26. ^ "Kilkenny completes Leeds switch". Birmingham City F.C. 7 January 2008.,,10412~1208697,00.html. Retrieved 2008-01-07. 
  27. ^ Football Stars Of Tomorrow - Neil Kilkenny. 
  28. ^ "Top Football in the Top End". Football Federation Australia. 17 June 2008. Retrieved 2008-06-20. 

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