Maximilian William Kilman, classy by name, classy by nature. A young man on a mission to write himself into Wolves’ starting XIs for the future. After years of widely reported success playing futsal, and a three-year stint in the National League, a move to Wolverhampton Wanderers followed, joining the u-23’s on their quest for promotion. Kilman played a key role in achieving this goal, the personal reward being recognition from Wolves’ first team Head Coach Nuno.
Espirito Santo’s penultimate year at the helm of Wolves birthed the start of Max’s rise. A plethora of confident cameos in Europe gave Wolves fans something to be excited about, appearing assertive in the tackle and quick across the ground for someone of his stature. Additionally, a combination of major injuries and stagnating form for the likes of Willy Boly, gave Max even more reason to stake his claim in the first team selection – warranted with a contract extension. Nuno’s final year of his tenure was where the centre-backs confidence shot for the moon, pocketing the best of what the Premier League had to offer. Wolves fans were particularly impressed by Kilman, despite the clubs shambolic season of defensive frailty. His album of standing and sliding conviction, partnered with an underappreciated ability to bring the ball out from the back was ever-growing for the 24-year-old, akin to “national hero,” Harry Maguire at the time.
COVID-19 took fans out of stadiums, players struggled to adapt to the change of scene. But not many had a worse season behind the scenes than Max, with his father passing in November 2020, it would have been entirely understandable to see a significant drop off in his form. However, Max’s performances displayed consistency that his defensive teammates could only wish for that year, and a Premier League man of the match award was to come following a hard-fought battle in Yorkshire at Elland Road.
A season of dire football and a 13th place finish in the Premier League meant NES was consequentially relieved of his duties at Wolves. Fears began to grow amongst fans over who would take the wheel, with rumours appearing out of the cracks of Wolverhampton pavements. Yet, there was an overriding hope that the new gaffer would start with a defensive 4, taking the shackles off our attacking talent and bringing our defenders off the by-line. Left-footed centre backs somehow became the talk of footballing punditry during the European championships, particularly those who can pass the ball efficiently, with pace.
Unsurprisingly, Portugal provided Nuno’s successor, by the name of Bruno Lage. A coach with an attacking mindset and an unrivalled admiration for goals galore. Being the baby of Wolves’ first-team centre backs (minus the addition of Yerson Mosquera), fans worried that experience would take him out of favour of Lage. Don’t let his height deceive you though, Max is still a cub amongst this pack of Wolves, he just so happens to be a better hunter than his elders. Seven games into the new Premier League season, not one performance below a 6/10. Beyond comfortable in the most competitive league on the planet, baffles me to this day that FIFA would not permit this man to play for Ukraine if he could, no doubt that he’d be a seasoned international already. A proper centre-back, a position Wolves fans have been crying out to fill in the rear of 4 years with midfielders protecting our goalkeeper.
Max hasn’t got to his peak just yet, but he’s way past base camp. Kilman’s climb is well underway, evidencing a constant lesson in the art of defending, and pride in a clean sheet. Molineux is his classroom, the prem is his playground. Preachers state that consistency is key, and if that is the case, Max has got a bright future at the top echelons of professional football.
Sam Beeken is part of the Talking Wolves editorial team – you can follow him here