Kilkenny told TWG:
Life as a professional footballer has been a great adventure.
Who he trusts to look after his Socceroos jumpers.
Why Melbourne City were the right choice for him.
Which four football guests he would love to invite to a dinner party.
And which four non-football guests.
Which team he would play the last game of his career for if he had his pick.
TWG: It has been a fascinating career you’ve had so far, with the move from Australia back to your country of birth, England, while you were still a child, then the movement between clubs there and now a move back to Australia to join Melbourne City in the A-League. Has it mostly been fun?
NK: It was easier when I was living with my family than leaving home at 18 and moving to Birmingham away from family and friends, but that was the start of it all and playing for different clubs and moving around England has been fun and I’ve experienced a lot. When Melbourne City came for me, I’d been thinking for a while about having a change and I thought why not. It’s a fantastic club, it’s got great backing and I had a chat with the City group and liked what I heard, so that’s why I made the decision.
TWG: No doubt there have been some downs to go with the ups in your career, but that’s football isn’t it?
NK: Yeah, you have your ups and downs, but that’s life and obviously that is football, but looking back it’s been a great experience and a great adventure and with the City group coming to me and encouraging me to join Melbourne City, the way the club wants to play the game is what attracted me. For the last few years, since I left Leeds, I’ve played for teams that would miss out the middle third and go straight up to the front man. Obviously here we want to play differently to that and I’m really looking forward to it.
TWG: You played for five clubs over 13 years in England and spent a significant amount of time at each. Are you the type of person who fits in pretty well wherever you go?
NK: I think I do manage to fit in well with a group, with a team. I try to take on the style of the club and sometimes that frustrates me because I feel the game should be played in a particular way and obviously in England that doesn’t really apply to as many clubs as I feel it should. I’ve still enjoyed my time wherever I’ve been, but I want to play more football and hopefully here I’ll be doing that.
TWG: What is the key for a footballer when it comes to getting teammates to respect you?
NK: Probably working hard, really. If you do that then your teammates will naturally respect you.
TWG: Football is a workplace, the same as anywhere else in a sense. Have you ever had to play alongside someone you really couldn’t stand?
NK: No, not really. I’ve managed to get on with most people everywhere I’ve been. I’m one to keep myself to myself, anyway, and with the media as well and that’s probably why I haven’t had as many headlines in Australia as I perhaps should have with the success in the period I’ve had in England.
TWG: Do you have a family yourself and are you happy about your decision to come here on that front?
NK: My partner, Caprice, and our three children are moving over here in a couple of weeks. I’ve spent the first six or seven weeks on my own here. My partner is English and she has never been to Australia and obviously our kids haven’t either, but hopefully it’s going to be a great experience for them and a really good adventure for all of us. I could have kept playing in England, but I wanted to experience something new.
TWG: How has it been for you so far, back in Australia?
NK: I’m enjoying it, particularly the way we’re going to play this season. I’m taking in everything the coaches are telling me and hopefully we can be successful.
TWG: When you have a bit of spare time, how are you relaxing away from football?
NK: We haven’t had many days off from training, but when we have had them I’ve been looking for a house. I’ve been staying with one of the lads, which helped me get settled here, but luckily I’ve found a house and hopefully I’ll be moving in there in the next week or two, ahead of the family arriving.
TWG: What are the big advantages you see with Melbourne City being a part of the City Football Group?
NK: The club is very professional, the set-up that they’ve got, and they’ve made me feel really welcome. All of the staff have been so helpful in getting me settled.
TWG: You’ve represented Australia 14 times. What do you do with your Socceroo shirts, keep them all, give some away to family and friends, swap some with opposition players?
NK: I’ve given some away to family, but I’ve got most of them kept safely together at my mum’s place.
TWG: Mums are good for that sort of thing, aren’t they. You know they’ll never go missing while she’s looking after them.
NK: Oh, my mum, I’m going to miss her loads while I’m over here as well.
TWG: Are you a keen movie watcher, a big music listener, an avid reader, or none of the above?
NK: No, not really. Outside of football I’m very family-oriented with my partner and the kids, so every bit of spare time I have I spend with them. I’m a massive family man and I just hang out with them as much as I can.
TWG: What is your dream family holiday destination if time and money weren’t in the way?
NK: Well, when I was in England it probably would’ve been Australia - the Gold Coast or somewhere like that. I love Dubai, I’ve been there a few times in the off-season, and I want to go to the US as well, which I haven’t really experienced yet.
TWG: If you were having a dinner party with four guests and they were all football people, who would you pick?
NK: David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Xavi Hernandez and Lionel Messi. Four players that I really admire. Beckham, being the personality that he is, Scholes and Hernandez because of the way they actually play the game and Messi because he’s probably the best player ever.
TWG: And if it was a dinner party with four guests who were non-football people, who would you pick?
NK: If I could go back in time to include a couple of who are no longer with us, then Michael Jackson, Michael Jordan, LeBron James and Elvis.
TWG: What’s the best advice anyone ever gave you, whether it was to do with football or life in general?
NK: In football, there’s always an opinion. Everyone’s got one and you have to let it be like water off a duck’s back. It might be a good opinion about you or it might be bad, but as long as you’ve got confidence in yourself that’s all that matters.
TWG: What do you tell young footballers who ask for advice?
NK: Just to work as hard as you can, because if you do that then no-one can ask for anything more of you. If you work hard you’ll probably improve with it.
TWG: Finally, if you had one game left in your career and you could play it with any team in the world, which team would it be?
NK: I’d love to play at Barcelona. They play the game the way I believe it should be played and over the last 10 years I don’t think anyone could argue they’ve been the most successful team ever, because of the players they’ve got there and what they’ve won.