Birthdate: 2 May 1981
Birthplace: Leicester, England
Other clubs: Coventry City (1997-2000), West Bromwich Albion (loan 2005-06), Wigan Athletic (loan 2006 + transfer 2007-12), Leicester City (loan 2010-11), Doncaster Rovers (loan 2011), Sheffield Wednesday (2012-15), Preston North End (2015-16), Bury (2016)
Bought from: Coventry City
Signed for LFC: £6m, 31.08.2001
International debut: 16.08.2006 vs. Greece
International caps: 1/0
Liverpool debut: 09.10.2001
Last appearance: 11.12.2004
Contract expiry: 27.10.2006
Win ratio: 40% W:18 D:15 L:12
Total games/goals opposite LFC: 8 / 0
LFC league games/goals: 25 / 0
Total LFC games/goals: 45 / 0
Player profileA towering goalkeeper who graduated from Coventry's youth academy and made his first-team debut for the Sky Blues on 22 September 1999. He played his second game a year later showing so much promise that he replaced Swedish international Magnus Hedman for good. He was voted Young Player of the Year by Coventry's supporters. His progress was further rewarded when he made his England u-21 debut on 24 May 2001 against Mexico. After only 28 appearances for Coventry he was signed by Liverpool on the same day Feyenoord goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek was brought to Anfield. Kirkland only started four games in his debut season but after Dudek's clanger against Manchester United at Anfield on 7 December 2002 he was finally given a proper chance. Houllier challenged Kirkland to fulfil his promise. "Chris has the potential to reach the top level with England,'' said 'le boss'. "He is a good shot-stopper and is good at getting down quickly for a big 'keeper, but what I like best about him is that he is brave. These days talent does not wait. Look at Tiger Woods in golf and how Martina Hingis was in tennis, as well as at Michael Owen here at Liverpool. We are living in an age where the young take the power quickly.'' Kirkland helped Liverpool into the League Cup final before suffering a serious knee injury in the fourth round of the FA Cup that enabled Dudek to go back into the starting line-up. Another way below-par performance by Dudek against United at Anfield where Giggs scored a couple gave Kirkland another run in the side in the 2003/04 season. He held on to his starting berth for a month before breaking his finger against Bolton at Anfield. The goalkeepers were playing their own version of hokey cokey and Paul Jones was even brought in as an emergency 'keeper in January 2004 as both Kirkland and Dudek were out injured. Kirkland's second spell in the first eleven that campaign only lasted five games this time around before another injury ended his season in March.
Kirkland had his longest spell as Liverpool's number one from October - December 2004 before a series of mistakes led to him being axed from the side. The arrival of Scott Carson from Leeds in January 2005 finally ended Kirkland's once-promising Anfield career. After being loaned to West Brom, who got relegated from the Premier League in the 2005/06 season, his career was resurrected at Wigan Athletic. Kirkland made his full England debut in August 2006, to justify a bet his father had made years earlier that his son would play for England before reaching the age of thirty. Eddie Kirkland was delighted. "He was 14 or 15 at the time and my family, friends and work colleagues put a bet of £100 at 100/1 and it has come good tonight. Absolutely fantastic." Bookmakers William Hill confirmed Eddie had staked £98.10 with the firm at 100/1, and would receive a cheque for £9,908.10.
The injury-prone Kirkland would still get niggles but played regularly for four seasons with Wigan but failed to add to his one full England cap. Kirkland lost his place in the Wigan team to the Omani Ali Al-Habsi following two heavy defeats at the start of the 2010/11 season. He went briefly on loan to his hometown club, Leicester City, playing in three matches. After returning to Wigan his injury jinx struck again when he was carried off on a stretcher after a collision with Bolton's Johan Elmander early in January 2011. In October 2011 Kirkland joined Championship club Doncaster Rovers, but he... yes, you guessed it... suffered a back injury on his debut! At the end of the 2011/12 season it was announced that the now 31-year-old goalkeeper would be joining Sheffield Wednesday prior to the 2012/13 season. Kirkland was in the headlines when he was struck in the face and knocked to the ground by an invading Leeds fan in the Yorkshire derby on 19 October 2012 at Hillsborough. Leeds had just equalised 1-1 in the seventy-seventh minute."After conceding the goal, I was looking at the ground but when I looked up, I caught a glimpse of someone coming towards me," Kirkland said. "I thought he was going to give me some abuse but then suddenly he came at me with both hands and I was stunned, you never know what could have been in his hands. Later on I thought of my family watching something like that and it was not nice to think my daughter saw me assaulted like that."
Kirkland was a regular first-team goalkeeper in 2012/13. His seventh different English club, Sheffield Wednesday, ended the season in 18th position in The Championship division. In 2013/14 he played in 35 of Wednesday's 46 matches in The Championship as the Owls improved their finishing position by two places. Kikrkland also played at Rotherham in the League Cup second round when a capacity crowd at the New York Stadium saw the hosts defeat their Yorkshire neighbours by two goals to one. in the summer of 2015, after 98 league appearances for Wednesday, he joined Preston North End where he was second choice. All of his five league appearances came towards the end of the season and in June 2016 he signed a one year deal with Bury. In August Kirkland left Bury without playing a game, saying he needs time away from football, citing personal reasons.
Appearances per season
A more detailed look at the player's appearances
|1||09.10.2001||Grimsby Town||Anfield||League Cup|
BBC report on Liverpool 3-1 Southampton on 6 November 2002.More
The Guardian report on Coventry - Liverpool on 28.04.2001.More
An article by Henry Winter in The Telegraph on 2nd of December 2006.More
Chris' father obviously believed in his son's footballing future. More
"If you look at what we’re doing here, there is a certain psychology and logic about everything we try to do, in terms of improving the team and bringing in young players. We tried to sign Chris before. He is a long-term prospect who has signed a six-year contract. He is the future. Chris could be the next England goalkeeper and we have a lot of faith in him."
Houllier on Chris Kirkland
"A month or so ago, Gary McAllister and I were talking about young goalkeepers and he spoke to me of a tall guy at Coventry who was only 19 and who was very good.
At the time, Magnus Hedman was in goal for them, but I remember realising as soon as Kirkland came into the side that he was the person Macca had been talking about.
Kirkland made some incredible saves against us. For someone so young, who’d only made his debut a few weeks earlier, I thought he was magnificent. Maybe the adrenalin is still flowing fast through his body, which is helping him play so well, but from what I’ve seen of him he must have a big future."
Westerveld in November 2000
"I have known him since he was 15 – when he was a big Bambi who could hardly kick the ball out of the penalty box. There is nobody better than him now, he’s as good as anyone, all he needs is experience and getting it is a problem – he’s behind Jerzy Dudek in the pecking order, one of the best goalkeepers in the world."
Gordon Strachan on Kirkland
Igor Biscan left Kirkland pole-axed and unconscious in the back of the net against Deportivo in Spain on 3rd November 2004:
"Igor was everywhere tonight wasn't he? It was just one of those things but he caught me and knocked me out. It took a while for me to come round again but I was okay. I thought Igor was excellent tonight. He's done really well this season and his performance was top class."
The ever-unlucky Kirkland
"His nickname should be Casper, after the ghost, because he's the whitest person I've ever seen!"
Neil Mellor in February 2005 on Kirkland
"I hope the problems I have had will now be over. Before the operation it wasn't just playing that was the problem, it was getting out of bed in the mornings and it was everything in general so I thought the best thing was to have the operation. I am fine now and can't feel anything which is great for me."
"It's difficult to put into words what I have been through. It's just been very, very disappointing and to be honest since I've come here it's been very stop start. I've had some serious injuries but you just have to carry on and keep your head up and that's what I am looking to do now. I've had people come up to me and wish me well and hope I can get back quickly which is nice. I don't know what I've done in a previous life but it couldn't have been very nice!"
Kirkland in March 2005
"I didn't think I was going to get a winners' medal, but the manager gave me his. It was an unbelievable moment. He came up to me on the pitch after the game and said: 'This belongs to you.' I was speechless. It meant a lot to me that he should do that. I think that gesture shows what kind of a man he is and how much he thinks of his players. I'd played in all the games except one on the way to Cardiff and it was very hard for me to miss out. But for the boss to give me a winner's medal is something I'll never forget."
Chris Kirkland‘s cruciate knee ligament injury wrecked his chances of taking part in the Worthington Cup final against Manchester United, meaning he missed out on the first winners' medal of his short career.
|Club||Season||Club rank||League apps||League goals||Total apps||Total goals|
|Coventry City||2000-2001||England Premier League||23||0||27||0|
|Coventry City||2001-2002||England First Division||1||0||1||0|
|WBA||2005-2006||England Premier League||10||0||12||0|
|Wigan Athletic||2006-2007||England Premier League||26||0||26||0|
|Wigan Athletic||2007-2008||England Premier League||37||0||38||0|
|Wigan Athletic||2008-2009||England Premier League||32||0||34||0|
|Wigan Athletic||2009-2010||England Premier League||32||0||32||0|
|Wigan Athletic||2010-2011||England Premier League||4||0||4||0|
|Leicester City||2010-2011||England Championship||3||0||3||0|
|Doncaster Rovers||2011-2012||England Championship||1||0||1||0|
|Sheffield Wednesday||2012-2013||England Championship||46||0||47||0|
|Sheffield Wednesday||2013-2014||England Championship||35||0||36||0|
|Sheffield Wednesday||2014-2015||England Championship||3||0||7||0|
|Preston North End||2015-2016||Championship||5||0||6||0|