|Full Name:||Christopher Edmund Kirkland|
|Date of Birth:||2 May 1981|
|Place of Birth:||Barwell, England|
|Height:||6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)|
|Playing Position:||Goalkeeper |
|Current Team:||Wigan Athletic |
|Player Number:||1 |
|1999–2001||Coventry City||24 (0)|
|2005–2006||→West Bromwich Albion (loan)||10 (0)|
|2006||→Wigan Athletic (loan)||09 (0)|
|2006–||Wigan Athletic||54 (0)|
|England U21||08 (0)|
Christopher Edmund "Chris" Kirkland (born 2 May 1981 in Barwell, Leicestershire) is an English football goalkeeper. He currently plays for Wigan Athletic in the English Premier League.
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 made his debut in the League Cup against Tranmere Rovers on 22 September 1999. He was bought by Liverpool for £6m on the last day of the transfer window at the start of the 2001–02 season. At the time he was the most expensive goalkeeper in British transfer history, at only 20 years old.
Injury to Liverpool's first-choice goalkeeper Jerzy 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.
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.
West Bromwich Albion
In the summer of 2005 Kirkland agreed to go on a season-long loan to West Bromwich Albion 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. He kept a clean sheet on his Albion debut as the team drew 0–0 away at Manchester City. His move to The Hawthorns bore immediate fruit for Kirkland as he was called up to replace 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.
In July 2006, Kirkland joined Wigan Athletic on a six-month loan spell. This move became permanent on 27 October 2006 when the two clubs and Kirkland made a compromise. He signed with Wigan Athletic for three years, until the end of the 2008–09 season. He was given the number 1 jersey for the 2007–08 season and became the first-choice goalkeeper of new manager Steve Bruce. Kirkland won the club's Players' Player of the Year and Media Player of the Year awards for 2007–08. He committed his future to Wigan in May 2008 when he signed a new contract, tieing him to the club until 2012.
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.