Martinez praise for Kirkland

Chris Kirkland after the attack
Chris Kirkland after the attack

ROBERTO Martinez believes Chris Kirkland deserves huge credit for ensuring the situation surrounding his assault at the weekend didn’t escalate.

The football world was shocked last Friday when the ex-Latics goalkeeper found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time during Sheffield Wednesday’s 1-1 draw with Leeds.

Kirkland, who joined Wednesday over the summer after six years with Wigan, had just conceded an equalising goal to Michael Tongue when a Leeds fan invaded the pitch and attacked him.

Martinez watched the horror unfold along with the Wigan squad as they prepared for Saturday’s Premier League clash at Swansea.

And the Latics chief admits they were relieved to see their former colleague get up after treatment and complete the game.

“We were at the team hotel, watching the game, and it was just horrible to see what happened,” Martinez told the Evening Post.

“You are watching the situation and you feel absolutely disgusted.

“We spoke to Chris straight after the game and he was fine, which was a relief.

“But then you start to look back at the event in the cold light of day and you just cannot see that on a football field – under any circumstances.

“And then you see the way Chris reacted, and I thought he deserves a lot of credit for not getting involved.”

Martinez recognised the situation could have got even more ugly if Kirkland had retaliated, and praised the former England man for his professionalism in continuing.

“It would have been natural for him to have reacted, and that would have ensured the situation would have turned nasty very quickly,” the Spaniard added.

“He showed exactly what a good professional he is and got up and carried on, when you knew he couldn’t possibly have been in the right frame of mind to do that.

“He didn’t want to come off – he wanted to carry on and show he could handle the situation – and his experience allowed him to complete the game.

“I was glad to see him keep a clean sheet for the rest of the game because his outstanding bravery deserved for that to happen.

“Hopefully now he can look forward to the rest of the season – and I hope we never see an incident like that on a football field ever again.”

Aaron Cawley, 21, from Cheltenham was jailed for 16 weeks at Sheffield Magistrates’ Court on Monday after he admitted attacking Kirkland.

Bradford City have announced they’ve sold over 4,500 tickets for next Tuesday’s Capital One Cup fourth round tie against Latics at the DW.