London: Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper Chris Kirkland has spoken of his shock at being attacked by a Leeds fan during Friday’s Yorkshire derby at Hillsborough — and urged the authorities to take swift action to prevent a repeat.
Kirkland was attacked after Michael Tonge’s 76th-minute equaliser for Leeds. The fan shoved him strongly in the face with both hands, knocking him over. The suspect has been identified by the police but has yet to be arrested. He has been named on social media sites but not by the police.
The Football Association confirmed it is investigating the incident and is awaiting the referee’s report. The former England keeper said in a statement: “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.”
Kirkland was treated by Wednesday’s medical team and was able to complete the match. He continued: “I was sore and, as I say, really shocked at what had happened. “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... 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.
“I just want the authorities to look at what happened and take the appropriate action...”
South Yorkshire Police’s senior investigating officer, Detective Inspector Mark Monteiro, said: “With the public’s assistance we have clearly identified the offender who ran on to the pitch during Friday’s game between Sheffield Wednesday FC and Leeds United FC and who is suspected of assaulting the Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper.