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'It was not a nice feeling to think my daughter saw me assaulted like that' - Kirkland recalls shock at fan attack

The goalkeeper described the incident as “scary”.

Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper Chris Kirkland lays on the ground after being struck by a Leeds United fan as other fans run onto the pitch.
Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper Chris Kirkland lays on the ground after being struck by a Leeds United fan as other fans run onto the pitch.

SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY GOALKEEPER Chris Kirkland spoke Saturday of his shock at being attacked on the pitch by a Leeds fan as English football’s authorities condemned the ugly scenes at the match.

The former England and Liverpool keeper was shoved in the face and knocked to the ground by a man who invaded the pitch during a stormy 1-1 Championship draw at Hillsborough on Friday, but was not caught by stewards.

The suspect has been identified but remains at large.

The incident happened after Leeds equalised.

“I was gutted with conceding the goal and had my head down as I kicked the ball down the field,” Kirkland said in a statement released by the Owls.

“When I looked up, I caught a glimpse of someone coming towards me on the pitch.

“I thought he was going to give me some abuse but then suddenly he came at me with both hands and I was stunned.

“I felt the full force and I was just shocked because you never know what could have been in his hands.

“I was sore and, as I say, really shocked at what had happened.

“The rest of the game flew by and then the final whistle came, the adrenalin goes and you reflect on something like that and it was scary.

“It was not a nice feeling to think my daughter saw me assaulted like that.

“I just want the authorities to look at what happened and take the appropriate action because sooner or later, we could be talking about something even more serious.”

It was one of a number of unsavoury incidents to have occurred at the Yorkshire derby.

Leeds fans sang songs about child abuse charges against Wednesday manager Dave Jones which he was cleared of in 2000, while they also appeared to herald the late Leeds-born broadcaster Jimmy Saville, who is currently the subject of a giant child abuse investigation.

Bottles were also thrown onto the pitch from the away end, while home fans sang songs relating to the deaths of two Leeds fans in Turkey in April 2000.

Detective Inspector Mark Monteiro said the offender who struck Kirkland had been clearly identified by the public.

“We are dealing with the complaint made by the player and we are currently taking statements, collating evidence and making inquiries to locate and arrest the offender,” he said.

Security camera footage would be used to identify suspects who may have committed other offences, he added.

The Football Association, the sport’s governing body in England, launched a probe of its own.

“The FA condemns the scenes at Hillsborough,” a spokesman said.

“We have begun an immediate investigation and have been in contact with both clubs.

“We would call for the authorities to identify and bring before the courts anyone who was involved in any form of criminal disorder.”

- © AFP, 2012

As it happened: Norwich v Arsenal, Premier League>

VIDEO: Leeds fan assaults Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper Chris Kirkland>

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