Sheffield Wednesday: Kirkland hails fans as ‘different class’ as keeper quits Owls

Chris Kirkland
Chris Kirkland

Chris Kirkland is leaving Sheffield Wednesday after turning down the Championship club’s offer of a one-year contract.

The experienced goalkeeper was one of five players offered fresh terms by the Owls following the end of the 2014/15 season.

It initially appeared that Kirkland, who played second fiddle to Keiren Westwood for the majority of last term, would extend his stay but the 34-year-old has had a change of heart and opted to move on.

Kirkland moved to Hillsborough in May 2012 and was a first-team regular under former Owls boss Dave Jones, winning the player-of-the-season award in his first season.

Injuries and loss of form affected Kirkland the following year and competition for the number one spot hotted up following Westwood’s arrival.

Ex-Wednesday head coach Stuart Gray preferred Westwood in between sticks and Kirkland started just eight times last term. Only four of his appearances came in the league.

Kirkland said: “This has been a really tough decision and one that I have mulled over through the summer but I have decided to move on.

“I want a new challenge at this stage of my career. Everyone loves to play first team football and I am no different.

“I came back to the club this week to do things the right way, which is in person because I have a lot of friends at this football club who deserve full respect.

“I would like to thank all the staff who have been so supportive in my three years with Wednesday and wish the new head coach and the new chairman nothing but the very best.

“And, of course, I would like to thank the fans, who have been different class and I hope to see them at the other end of the field soon.”

In total, Leicester-born Kirkland played 91 times for Wednesday. His last appearance came in their final-day draw at Premier League-bound Watford.

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