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Sheffield Wednesday's Kirkland: 'I felt like I was hit by a baseball bat'

Sheffield Wednesday's Kirkland: 'I felt like I was hit by a baseball bat'

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The Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper has called for new safety measures after Friday's attack saw him floored by a pitch-invading Leeds United fan at Hillsborough.

Chris Kirkland expressed his shock and fear after a Leeds United fan ran onto the field on Friday and ambushed the Sheffield Wednesday keeper in the Yorkshire derby.

Kirkland, who joined the Owls in May from Wigan Athletic, was knocked to the ground in the second half of the game by a fan who struck in him the face after Leeds United had equalized through a Michael Tonge goal.

The 31-year-old spoke to The Sun and has called for action to be taken.

“I am OK now, but I was really shocked at the time," Kirkland said. "I was gutted at losing the goal – I had kicked the ball away and was deflated. Out of the corner of my eye I saw this Leeds fan coming towards me.

“I thought he was going to give me some abuse. Then he laid right into me. It felt like I had been hit by a baseball bat. He caught me a cracker. Then I am on the floor and thinking, ‘Has that really just happened?’

“I had my wife at the game, my daughter has seen it too. But this is not about me. I hope coming out and speaking means that something will be done by the authorities before something really serious happens either to a player or to fans.

“It is a sad time for football. There are people out to cause trouble. That guy has only gone to the game for that reason. It’s not about football any more, it’s terrible. You want families to go to games but I’m not sure you can do that any more. There is too much going on, too much abuse."

As well as the assault, some Leeds fans also tore down an advertising board in the Hillsborough stadium, while various objects were thrown onto the pitch.

“I got hit by something before the second half started,” Kirkland said. “I just want the authorities to sort this out and put some measures in place for all of us – players and fans. That is the most important thing.”

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