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Kevin Kilbane pays tribute to 'reliable' Jon Walters

Former Irish international Kevin Kilbane has hailed the influence Jon Walters has had on the inte...

Kevin Kilbane pays tribute to...

Kevin Kilbane pays tribute to 'reliable' Jon Walters

Former Irish international Kevin Kilbane has hailed the influence Jon Walters has had on the international set-up over the years after the forward retired on Friday. 

Speaking to Off The Ball's Will O'Callaghan after hearing the news, Kilbane said: "It's a reality that comes to most professional players - most have chronic injuries that they have and can't get over. Very few actually do or are able to retire on their own terms so it's heartbreaking for him I'm sure but that's the thing that comes around to reality. Every sportsman and woman expect it to happen one day and when it does happen it's very hard to take.

"I think we can all pick out games he'd shone over a number of years - he was probably the first name on the team sheet for a lot of years under Giovanni Trapatonni and certainly when Martin O'Neill took over - he was the one who you could rely on to go in and do a job and do exactly what the manager would have expected of him.

"He played a number of different positions - I personally liked it when he played as a target man, as a number nine. So often he played for Ireland as a right-sider, going in to support attacks - I liked when he did play as a number nine.

"I think he was crucial to the success Martin O'Neill had, particularly in the early days at the Euros in 2016. He was the key player throughout that campaign.

Speaking about his own interactions with Walters, he said: "I feel a bit gutted when you talk about someone's career because our careers, he came into a few squads towards the back end of my international career and because I wasn't involved in a couple of the friendlies when he first came in, we never really got the chance to be in the same side together at any stage. So, you're a bit gutted about that, when you see the career he had and the player he was...fully appreciated by every single player that he would have played alongside.

"I think he's got a great sense of humour as well which always helps when he's behind the scenes as well because he fit in perfectly with whatever the team ethos would have been about. He had the personality, the character, but also had the game to back it all up and that's why it is such a shame. I don't see too many real leaders in the Irish set-up right now and I think he would have been pivotal to Mick," he added.

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Football Ireland Jon Walters Kevin Kalbane Soccer Walters