Chris Kirkland is an English former professional footballer who played as a goalkeeper. He made 321 league and cup appearances in an 18-year professional career from 1998 to 2016, and won one cap for the English national team in 2006. Kirkland started his career at Coventry City, where he was regarded as one of the country's most promising young goalkeepers. He was later signed by Premier League club Liverpool for £6 million in August 2001. However, his time at the club was blighted by recurring injuries, which almost caused him to retire from football altogether.
He would later sign for Wigan Athletic in July 2006, after a successful loan period, and he had further loan spells at both Leicester City and Doncaster Rovers before being signed by Sheffield Wednesday in May 2012. He joined Preston North End in August 2015 and had a brief spell with Bury before retiring in August 2016. Kirkland made his debut for Liverpool in October 2001 but mostly served as understudy to first-choice goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek during the 2001–02 season. During the following season, costly errors by Dudek in a league fixture against Manchester United resulted in manager Gérard Houllier handing the first-team place to Kirkland in December.
Kirkland ousted Dudek as first-choice Liverpool keeper at the beginning of the 2004–05 season and played 14 matches before he was again sidelined in December after succumbing to a long-standing back injury. He had played four Champions League matches but was unable to be named in the squad for 2005 final due to injury; Scott Carson, who took his place on the bench in Istanbul, later offered his Champions League winners medal to Kirkland, who refused to accept it.
In July 2005, Kirkland agreed to go on a season-long loan to Bryan Robson's West Bromwich Albion in order to kick-start his career again.He kept a clean sheet on his Albion debut as the team drew 0–0 away at Manchester City. An injury to Kirkland in the first half of the 2005–06 season saw Polish goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak replace him, and Kuszczak showed excellent form and therefore remained the first-choice goalkeeper at The Hawthorns for the rest of the season.
Kirkland also again spent time out of action with a broken finger and was told by Liverpool manager Rafael Benítez that he would have to move away from Anfield if he wanted to play regular first-team football as new signing Pepe Reina had made an excellent start to his Liverpool career.
Following on from his retirement from the game, Chris became the goalkeeping coach to Port Vale in 2017 whilst also launching his own academy named Chris Kirkland Goalkeeper Academy. In 2018, Chris joined Liverpool at the goalkeeping coach to the women's team before stepping down to focus on his academy in March 2019.
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