IN MIDDLE-English, killen meant to strike, which makes sense if your name's Chris Killen.
"Hearts was a big game to make my debut and it was a disappointing result to start with, but to then go and get a result at Ibrox was a great achievement and it was good to score," says the imposing centre-forward. "You want to get off the mark as soon as possible and I made a decent run and Derek gave me the ball and I played a one-two off the keeper and it went in." With Riordan running riot, and Killen in for the kill, add those further twin terrors of Garry O'Connor and Ivan Sproule and Hibs should come with a health warning for opposition teams. "It's brilliant for the fans," says Killen, unconcerned with the stress caused by the forward-thinking foursome in fretting defenders across the country.
"If you make the right runs there are good enough players to find you, so there are a lot of goals to be had," says Killen, reflecting primarily on that cold-eyed Livingston thumping. "You can see around the penalty box that everyone is hungry to score and that the first thing on everyone's mind is 'can I get a shot in?'" If it can be like that during 90 minutes, what is it like in training? "It's like back when you were a kid," reckons Killen, "it's like schoolboy football in the sense of players kicking the ball around, trying things - brilliant. It's not something I've been used to these past couple of seasons."
This particular morning Killen has not been booting footballs with abandon but crawling some lengths of the local swimming pool with his Hibs team-mates. The 24-year-old New Zealander grew up by the water, raised in his nation's capital of Wellington. "I'm from Island Bay, a fishing village on the south coast. That's pretty much all we used to do: if you wanted to go and do something you'd go down to the beach. Socially, life revolved around that, and fishing. My pal's dad was a fisherman, and that's how we made money."
The enterprising Killen and his teenage business partner would try and make a killing on the Wellington streets, selling fresh fish to the day-time public. "It's pretty funny looking back now at what we used to do for money. You wouldn't get away with it now," smiles Killen. "It was a case of standing on the street corner selling fish to people coming off the buses whereas nowadays health and safety would be all over you."
As well as peddling fish, Killen liked catching them and the big Kiwi has maintained a keen interest in his childhood pursuit. Your average New Zealander seems happiest outdoors, with so much natural spectacle on the doorstep, and Killen, though he has lived in Britain for seven years now, is no different. Not for him being cooped up. It is far better to be out and about, whether it's on a football field or in a fishing environment.
"You really want to be outside. A good mate of mine is this Welsh lad and I'd want to go fishing and he'd be like 'No, let's go down the pub for a few games of pool or darts' and I'm thinking 'It's a nice day, why don't we go outside?' because that's the way it should be. I know it's dictated by the weather and all that but you should get out as much as you can. I've taken up fly fishing since I came to Britain and I quite enjoy it but I need to find out where to go in Scotland. I find it relaxing - you can fish and forget about everything, just get away from it all."
The 17-year-old Killen wanted to get away from New Zealand because the one thing his country couldn't offer him, the one thing which he wanted most of all, was the chance to make his mark as a professional footballer. He knew in his mind that this meant treading the path of many Antipodeans to the UK. "I looked forward to the day that I would," says Killen, who received the opportunity that he would take with both boots after his coach at Miramar Rangers in Wellington moved to Manchester "and got to know someone at Man City and was able to arrange a trial for me."
Signed under Joe Royle, Killen learned his trade at City, alongside other promising peers including Shaun Wright-Phillips and Joey Barton. "I had four years there and there were a few good young players who came through. It was an enjoyable time and obviously a couple of the lads have gone on to do great things." Killen topped the reserve league goal chart in his first season with City and spent loan spells with both Wrexham and Port Vale with Kevin Keegan giving Killen some first team opportunities during his latter days with City. In the summer of 2002, Killen switched to Oldham for the sum of 200,000. He got off to a good start at Boundary Park, excelling in the goals department in his first season, though the subsequent campaign was patterned by injury and reserve football.
"I had some good times at Oldham," says Killen. "But things were coming to a standstill. I was in and out the side. I thought I was doing well, I was scoring goals but I just wasn't being picked. I had no hesitation in leaving because I want to push on in my career. It's a short career and you want to do as well for yourself as you can in that short period and I thought it would be a good move for me coming to Hibs, and hopefully it'll turn out that way."
He says his family back in New Zealand try to listen to his games on the internet and says they "saw a snip of the cup game against Rangers. There's not a lot of coverage going on back there." Killen notched a hat-trick in the FA Cup for Oldham against Leyton Orient last season and is hopeful of further success in the Scottish Cup. "I don't see why not but the emphasis is on the league. We'll be judged by where we finish, which is right. It would be great to win the cup but we must focus on the league. Maybe there has been an inconsistency with Hibs but if you can come back from a heavy defeat like Hearts to pull off a great result the following week against Rangers, then it just shows the lows are gone quick and everyone picks their heads up and gets on with it."
The easy access from Edinburgh to the sea naturally appeals to the Wellingtonian as does the architecture of Scotland's capital. With such a Scottish sounding name I ask him if he has Scottish roots. "You know, my mum said to me before I came up here that my great-grandfather was Scottish, which I never knew about, but my dad's English. I know there's a bit of Scottish and Irish somewhere with the name, but I don't know too much about my great-grandparents!" Genealogy can wait. If there is one subject Chris Killen wishes to demonstrate his proficiency for, it's goalscoring.