Kilbane, affectionately know as KilBAM by his fans, made his professional debut at his hometown club, Preston North End, after making his way through the youth system at Deepdale.
It wasn't long before his performances began to attract attention from other clubs, and he was sold to West Bromwich Albion for a fee of £1m in 1997.
This heralded in a bright new era for Kilbane, as he quickly became a fan favourite at The Hawthorns and at the same time broke into the Irish international setup.
In December 1999, Peter Reid's Sunderland paid £2.5 million for the left winger, making him the third most expensive club signing at the time. His impact was quite literally immediate; coming off the bench on his debut against Southampton, Kilbane crossed for Kevin Phillips to score the match winner. However, this was to be Sunderland's last win until March 2000, a loss in form which came to be known as "The Curse of Kilbane".
In spite of his best efforts on the pitch, he soon became a target for the Black Cats fans to vent their frustrations, as the team's drop in form under Peter Reid continued and the team were relegated from the Premiership. The constant booing eventually proved too much for Kilbane in the summer of 2003 and after he gave the travelling Sunderland fans a two-fingered salute on a pre-season tour of France, his days at the Stadium of Light seemed numbered.
On the last day of the transfer window at the start of the 2003-04 season, Kilbane moved to Everton for just under £1m, where he was reunited with his old boss, David Moyes. The Goodison Park fans would appreciate his commitment and re-invigorate Kilbane as a player. In return, he displayed great versatility which resulted in him being deployed right across the midfield, at left back or even as a support striker, as well has his preferred left-wing position. On August 26, 2006, during his last game for Everton, he was sent off by referee Mark Halsey for two bookable offences.
On August 31, 2006, Kilbane signed a three-year deal with Wigan Athletic for an estimated fee of £2 million.
On April 15, 2007 Kilbane scored his first goal for Wigan Athletic with a powerful header in the 3-3 draw against Tottenham Hotspur. This was his first goal at club level since October 2004.
With limited first-team opportunities at Wigan due to the emergence of Maynor Figueroa and with his contract set to expire in the summer, Kilbane transferred to Hull City on 15 January 2009 for an undisclosed fee believed to be in the region of £500,000,signing a two-and-a-half-year deal with the Yorkshire club
Having made his international debut against Iceland on September 6, 1997, Kilbane has become a stalwart for the Republic Of Ireland winning more than 80 caps for his country.
He was chosen as part of Mick McCarthy's Ireland squad for the 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan. The team did relatively well at the tournament, progressing to the last 16 where they were unlucky to lose out to Spain in a penalty shootout. One of the Irish penalties was missed by Kilbane.
He is however, jokingly known by the Irish supporters as "Zinedine Kilbane" as a mockery rhyme to the famous Zinedine Zidane. There were at one point t-shirts with this printed on it for sale outside Lansdowne Road after international matches.
Kilbane scored his first international goal in nearly four years with a magnificent strike against the Czech Republic on October 11, 2006.
His appearance against Montenegro was his 50th consecutive competitive game for his country.