SHEFFIELD Wednesday’s goalkeeper Chris Kirkland has spoken of his ‘shock and disappointment’ after being hit in the face by a thug who invaded the pitch at Hillsborough.
The Owls player was left dazed on the floor when he was pushed over by the man, who has since been unmasked on Twitter as a hooligan with a history of breaching football banning orders.
Kirkland said: “I was gutted with conceding the goal and had my head down as I kicked the ball down the field so we could restart the game.
“I was looking at the ground but 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.”
The goalkeeper was immediately given treatment by the Owls’ medical team and didn’t suffer any serious injuries.
He continued: “I was sore and, as I say, really shocked at what had happened and it was a strange feeling because of all the adrenalin you feel in such a big match anyway.
“My mind then turned to the possibility of winning the game because we had played ever so well and there was still 15 minutes to go.
“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.
“I thought of my family watching something like that and it was not a nice feeling to think my daughter saw me assaulted like that.”
Kirkland said he wanted ‘appropriate action’ to be taken to stop a similar incident happening again.
“I’m not seeking publicity on the back of this because I am not that kind of person.
“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.
“I would like to thank everyone from the football world for their messages of support, particularly from Sheffield Wednesday, and now I am looking forward to our game against Blackburn in midweek.
“It’s not about individuals, it’s about Sheffield Wednesday because this is a fantastic football club.
“And the sad thing is that what happened overshadowed what was an outstanding display and we want to build on that.”