‘United’ excerpts: Neil Kilkenny opens up on mental health

Neil Kilkenny Western United

United is set for release on 10 Play on Wednesday December 7, giving football fans and the wider Australian public a rich insight into the inner workings of Western United.

Throughout the six-part series, viewers will get to know and understand the hard work, challenges and sacrifices that went into the Club becoming Isuzu UTE A-League Men Champions.

Challenges and sacrifices were exactly what faced Neil Kilkenny throughout the 2021/22 campaign.

The midfielder moved away from his family in Perth to join Western United in the off-season, and COVID-19 border closures meant opportunities to see his family were few and far between.

In addition to not being able to see his partner and four children for sustained periods throughout the season, Kilkenny travelled back to the United Kingdom in March after his father-in-law passed away.

“Luckily my partner got to see her father before he died. That was an incredibly tough time, worrying about the effects it would have on my relationship. It’s taken its toll,” Kilkenny reveals in United.

All of that, coupled with his continued passion for football and desire to help United have success on the pitch, led Kilkenny to seek support for his mental health off the pitch.

United’s No.88 reveals in the series that he began speaking to a therapist in an important message for any other people that might be going through similar mental struggles.

“Mental health has been talked about a lot, it’s come right at the front of things over the last five years or so,” he says.

“I’d be in tears probably a couple of times a week going into work, because you haven’t seen your kids and your partner for so long. I’ve never really been one to talk about my feelings, but it’s definitely helped.”

Kilkenny’s resilience and leadership was sorely missed over four games, but his return just before the Finals saw him resume his pivotal role in the midfield.

He went on to start in all four matches in the Finals Series as he won the A-League Men Championship for the first time in his career, completing the set of all three domestic Australian titles.

Stream United now on 10 Play.