U20s | Kieran Gibbons Interview
Kieran Gibbons has had to show enormous determination just to get to this stage of his career given that a dispute with Hamilton Accies could have finished him before he even started. The defensive midfielder has been showing that determination on the pitch this season for the U2Os, and is busy catching the eye whenever he plays.
“I grew up in Duntocher near Clydebank. Clydebank would have been my local team but unfortunately they went to the wall before I was even born! I went to St Peter the Apostle school and played for St St Antonine’s from the age of five through to 11. We had a really good side, one of the players went to Celtic on a pro contract, one went to St Mirren, one to Rangers and I went to Hamilton. For a small area, we produced a lot of good players. I was with Hamilton Accies from the age of ten to 15 but things did not work out. I was getting tired of all the travelling and I asked to leave.”
The 15-year-old was on a pro-youth contract at Hamilton, but when his deal came to an end in 2009, the club demanded around £9,000 in compensation from any clubs who wanted to sign him, including Rangers and Dundee United, but after an historic legal battle Hamilton finally agreed to settle and released Kieran. It held back his progress for almost two years, which would have meant the end of many players’ chances of making it as a pro.
“I was stopped from playing football. As a 15 year old, all you want to do is play football so I was glad it was resolved and thankfully everything worked out in the end. I went back to my boys club and luckily enough for me I got picked up by the AFC Glasgow Centre.
“The first training session for the club, I was gone! I was absolutely knackered because I had not been doing much training before that. Thankfully Peter Weir saw something in me. I have a lot to thank Peter for. Even in the three trial games I played, I did not do that well but Peter kept pushing it, saying I should get a chance and he forced it through.
“When I went up to check out Aberdeen, the club really looked after us for the three days we were there. For me though it is important to be somewhere that I’m happy – which I am at Aberdeen. I have settled in really well. All the boys are really good, as are all the coaches and staff at the club.
“I’m enjoying my football this season as I’m playing more. Neil has said I am doing well but I fully understand what is involved in getting to the next level, so I have to get my head down and keep working hard and see where it takes me.
“I have scored a couple of goals this season, although I get a nose bleed when I get that far forward! Seriously though, as a midfielder it is something I need to have in my game.”
Anyone who has watched Kieran this season in the Youth League will know he is not far off being the complete midfielder and he puts a lot of his improvement down to the new U20 league set up.
“Everyone was a bit apprehensive with the new U20 League format at first and we were all thinking is this going to work? I think it has worked though. It is far better playing inside stadiums, you sometimes get a little crowd and the pitches are a lot better, which helps the standard of the football. The boys coming down from the first team show great experience. For example the other week we were playing with Rory Fallon, someone who has played at a World Cup. His experience rubs off on everyone.”
Kieran comes from a famous Scottish football dynasty. Jack McGinn was chairman of Celtic in the 1980s and ’90s and went on to become President of the Scottish Football Association and three of his grandchildren have gone on to make their mark at senior level. Stephen McGinn was a playmaker with St Mirren who represented the national team at Under-21 level before moving to Watford in 2010. His younger brother Paul played for Queen’s Park for three years before also signing for St Mirren two months ago, at a time when he was being watched by Aberdeen. There he joined up with another brother, John, who made his first-team this season for the Paisley side. And Kieran is Stephen, Paul and John’s cousin!
“I am friendly with all my cousins but I mainly speak to John as he a similar age to myself. When we play St Mirren I have a bit of banter with him! Family is a big thing for us in football. My dad comes to as many games as he can which is a fair commitment as it some distance from Clydebank to Aberdeen. I appreciate the commitment the whole family have had to make for me. When my dad is away travelling to watch my games then obviously he can’t spend time with my little brother and two big sisters.”
Much more progress from Kieran and it could be that dad will be able to watch his boy in the SPL……