Goalkeeper in shock attack

Leeds fans were in the Leppings Lane End of the ground where the the perpetrator entered the field of play.

Story highlights

  • Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper Chris Kirkland attacked on pitch
  • Former England keeper knocked to the floor and needed medical attention by his goal
  • Game continued after the incident with Kirkland left shaken
  • Leeds issue statement condemning actions of fan

After a week in which football's reputation has been dragged through the mud, the ugly spectre of hooliganism raised its head once more after a goalkeeper was subjected to a physical assault during an English Championship game.

Chris Kirkland, the goalkeeper of Sheffield Wednesday, was hit in the face by a supporter of Leeds United during the teams' 1-1 draw at Hillsborough.

With Leeds just having equalized in the 77th minute, the man ran onto the pitch and struck Kirkland, who fell to the floor and required medical treatment.

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The former England goalkeeper, 31, was left visibly shocked by the event and led to his manager, Dave Jones, insisting that Leeds fans should be 'banned from every league ground'.

"They are vile animals," Jones told Sky Sports.

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"You don't wave at them after that. I thought it had gone out of our game.

"The authorities have to look at it and sort it. I'm talking about an incident when we should be talking about the football. We're talking about vile animals.

"That's what they are. We talk about racism, but that, we need to sort that.

"Chris Kirkland is feeling sore, if he had stayed down I wonder what would have

happened? They [Leeds United] should be punished."

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The two teams, both from Yorkshire, have a fierce rivalry and had not played at Hillsborough for six years.

"I felt embarrassed to be a manager when I saw that," said Leeds manager Neil Warnock.

"I thought it was an absolute disgrace. I think they should get the guy and prosecute him and put him in prison.

"He (Kirkland) went down like a ton of bricks but that doesn't make a difference. Nobody should be on the pitch doing that.

"I hope we can make an absolute issue of it. He spoiled everything for everyone. I've not enjoyed that when I see a moron like that.

"I am not proud of being Leeds manager when I see that. I don't mind the rivalry between us - there was a great atmosphere.

"To see things like that on the field of play there is no place for it - I am absolutely embarrassed."

In March 2007, Timothy Smith, was fined £300 and given a three-year Football Banning Order after running onto the field and attempting to punch Frank Lampard during Chelsea's FA Cup replay at Tottenham.

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And action is nearly certain to be taken against the offender with Leeds offering its full cooperation to ensure he is found.

In a statement released after the game, Leeds said: "Leeds United Football Club would like to publicly apologise and condemn the action of the fan who came on the pitch and attacked Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper Chris Kirkland.

The club will fully cooperate with the police and the football authorities in identifying the individual concerned.

"After the week football has endured there is no place for this type of behaviour and the majority of Leeds supporters will be ashamed of his actions."

Speaking after the incident, Chief Superintendent Jason Harwin of South Yorkshire Police said: "During tonight's match, Sheffield Wednesday versus Leeds United at Hillsborough, incidents occurred where it is believed seats and bottles were thrown inside the ground.

"We are also aware of an incident whereby the Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper has been assaulted by an individual who ran onto the pitch.

"Fans are still leaving the ground and surrounding areas and our priority is to ensure the safe departure of fans.

"Such incidents are not acceptable and won't be tolerated. We will be working with both clubs to identify and quickly bring to justice the persons responsible.

"Thankfully, such incidents are a rarity and we see a minority spoil it for the majority of genuine supporters.

"We are keen to hear from anyone that can help identify any person responsible for any of these incidents tonight."

Meanwhile, in Russia, Dynamo Moscow's players came under attack from fans using paintball guns at the club's training ground on Friday.

Fans arrived in camouflage at the club's training base in Novogorsk, just north of Moscow before unleashing a flurry of paintballs at the players.

Dynamo lost seven of its opening eight games before the arrival of new coach Dan Petrescu.

The former Chelsea defender has helped guide the club to 13th position in the league since taking over the reins.

"They are idiots," club president Gennady Solovyov told local media.

"I have no other words to describe those who could do such things. I promise I'll do my best to try to find and punish those responsible for these actions."

Dynamo midfielder Alan Gatagov added: 'I was hit in the back of the head when they shot at us. Lots of players were also hit.

'I just can't find the right words. What are we supposed to do now? Should each of us hire a personal bodyguard?'

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