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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 August, 2003, 10:55 GMT 11:55 UK
Father to net from goalie bet
Chris Kirkland
Chris Kirkland is set to make his England debut on Wednesday
It is the dream of many fathers that their son might one day play football for their country.

But eight years ago, proud father Eddie Kirkland put his money where his mouth was and bet 100 with his friends at 100-1 odds that his son - then a Coventry schoolboy - would play for England.

His son Chris is now Liverpool goalkeeper and is in line to play for England.

On Wednesday, Mr Kirkland may pick up a cheque for 9,000 as Chris has made it to the England squad for the team's match with Croatia in Ipswich.

'Talent and attitude'

Mr Kirkland was so convinced of his son's talents he persuaded seven of his friends to put the bet on with him, bringing the total to 90, when Chris was a promising 15-year-old player for Coventry youth team.

If, as expected, 22-year-old Chris gets his first cap, Mr Kirkland and his friends will win 9,000.

Speaking from his Leicestershire home, Mr Kirkland said: "A tenner was a lot of money when I made the bet because I was seriously ill with cancer and wasn't working.

"But since Chris was around 13 I believed he could do it.

"He had the talent and the right attitude.

"I'm keeping my fingers crossed for tomorrow. Winning the money would be nice but it's more about the pride of seeing him in an England jersey, hopefully, and seeing him rewarded for all his hard work."

'Something special'

The former steel worker, who is now free from cancer, added: "I support Leicester but I follow Chris wherever he plays, so I'll probably spend the money on petrol and air fares."

Chris told the Daily Mirror newspaper: "My dad has always had great faith.

"He always thought I would be something special.

"I really hope I play and fulfil his faith in me - that would be great for both of us and I'm sure he would be celebrating madly."

Even the bookies firm where Mr Kirkland made the bet was being magnanimous.

William Hill spokesman Graham Sharpe said: "England needs a promising young keeper like him for the future.

"His father obviously saw his potential and had faith in him - I hope he wins the bet."

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