Chris Kirkland: Ex-England and Liverpool keeper leaves Bury without playing a game

Chris Kirkland in action for Preston North End
Chris Kirkland won his solitary England cap as a substitute against Greece in 2006

Former England goalkeeper Chris Kirkland has left Bury without playing a game for the League One side, saying he needs time away from football.

The 35-year-old, who moved to Bury on a one-year deal in June, has had his contract terminated upon request.

While he did not specify the reason for the request in a statement, he thanked club bosses for their "compassion".

"It's a decision I've taken putting my family's future and wellbeing first," Kirkland said.

"I know people will find it hard to understand why someone like myself, who has been lucky enough to have spent my professional life in football and enjoyed all the benefits that comes with that, needs some time and space away from the game...but I know it's the right one."

The goalkeeper leaves Bury less than 48 hours before the start of their season at home against Charlton Athletic.

Kirkland, who started his career at Coventry City and also played for Liverpool, West Bromwich Albion, Wigan, Leicester, Doncaster and Sheffield Wednesday, hopes the break from the game will allow him to "come back refreshed, with a new perspective on the game that will be valuable to someone".

"I hope, at the appropriate time, I might be able to, again, be involved and work within football, either as a player or in coaching or even work within the community," he added.

Bury manager David Flitcroft said it has been "a difficult situation to deal with".

"When someone like Chris Kirkland, who has so much to offer the game as a player and as a person comes into your building and says he doesn't want to and can't carry on you have to listen," he said.

"Chris needs time out away from the game he loves, but family is and will always be more important than football."

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