Christopher Edmund Kirkland (born 2 May 1981 in Barwell, Leicestershire) is an English football goalkeeper. He is currently playing for Wigan Athletic.
Kirkland shot to prominence as one of the most promising young English keepers in the country in the 2000-01 season while with his first club, Coventry City. He was bought by Liverpool for £6m on the last day of the transfer windows at the start of the 2001-02 season, as backup for the Reds' other new signing, Jerzy Dudek.
Injury to Dudek gave Kirkland his debut in the first team, against Galatasaray in the UEFA Champions League, but he had to wait until the following season for his first run in the team. Costly errors by Dudek in a league fixture against Manchester United handed the jersey to Kirkland for 14 matches, during which he kept 6 clean sheets. However, Kirkland was then himself injured, and a succession of recurring problems has seen him only make sporadic appearances since then.
He won six caps with the England under-21 team and was regularly selected for the senior squad from 2003 on, but did not make an appearance until he came on as a substitute for the second half of a friendly against Greece in August 2006. When Kirkland was eleven years old, his father and some family friends had placed bets of £100 each at 100/1 odds that he would play for England before the age of thirty. Kirkland's appearance netted the syndicate £10,000 each.
At the beginning of the 2004-05 season, Kirkland found himself with the chance to make an impact on the fortunes of Liverpool and England, having ousted his friend Jerzy Dudek as first-choice Liverpool keeper. His good form and lack of injury was seen as welcome news for Liverpool and England fans.
2005, however, did not start well for Kirkland, with his Liverpool career once again interrupted by injury. Having begun his Anfield career as the future England Number 1, a series of ineffective performances for the Reds, coupled with a string of injuries, meant that Kirkland had slipped down the goalkeeping pecking order behind Jerzy Dudek and new signing Scott Carson.
In the summer of 2005 Kirkland agreed to go on a season-long loan to West Brom in order to kick-start his career again; he had been moved to fourth in the pecking order, behind new signing Jose Reina, Dudek, and Carson. This move bore immediate fruit for Kirkland as he was called up to replace the increasingly accident prone Manchester City player David James as second-choice keeper for the England squad. An injury to Kirkland in the first half of the season saw Polish goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak replace him and remain West Brom's first choice goalkeeper for the rest of the season. Kirkland then joined Wigan Athletic on a season-long loan for the 2006/07 season, but this was made permament on October 27, 2006 . The deal will last until 2009.
He and his wife Leona welcomed a daughter - Lucy on 14th November 2006, which caused him to miss an International friendly match for England against Netherlands the next day.
Honours As Player
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