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“I never knew about it!”

Once upon a time Chris Kirkland won a decent amount of cash for family and friends

It was the bet which prompted a bunch of dads to follow suit.

Back in August 2006, then Liverpool goalkeeper Chris Kirkland made his senior international debut for England in a friendly against Greece. Kirkland, on for Paul Robinson, kept a clean sheet and warranted a brief mention for a decent stop from visiting striker Giorgios Karagounis.

The headlines, however (despite the fact it was Steve McLaren’s first game as England boss) focused on why Kirkland’s appearance was so significant. It netted his dad – and a fair few others – a share of £10,000.

Unbeknown to Kirkland, a £100 pot was gathered at the working men’s club he used to frequent with his family as a kid. His dad duly took the pot to the local bookies and waged the whole lot on his 13-year-old son one day playing for England. Twelve years later, it came in.

“I only found out when it surfaced in the papers at the time,” recalls Kirkland, speaking on the Goalkeepers’ Union podcast.

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“Back when I was younger my dad would take me to the working men’s club. Everyone would chuck me 50p for doing the scoreboard when they played darts and snooker. Then [when his dad suggested the bet] about six or seven added to a share of £100. My parents only had £20 as it’s all they could afford.

“The bookies would only allow £100 to be put on at 100/1. I’ve always said that if I’d gone with him, he’d have got about 1000000/1. You should have seen the state of me. I couldn’t even kick it beyond the 18-yard box!”

It’s a time Kirkland remembers fondly, especially because the bet paid out shortly before Christmas.

“One of the guys had three daughters and didn’t know how he was going to get them all presents,” he added.

“He ended up with £2000. It was never about the money for my dad, but stuff like that made it a brilliant story.”

Chris was talking on the Goalkeepers’ Union podcast. For more stories, including the time at Liverpool when a teammate strolled in after being shot in the backside, have a listen here.

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James Henry

Goalkeepers' Union dogsbody and owner of every Saves Galore VHS ever released. Long live the stanchion.
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