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Christopher 'Chris' Charles Eric Woods (born 14 November 1959 in Swineshead, Lincolnshire) is a former England football goalkeeper. He now works as a goalkeeping coach at Everton.
Woods was Peter Shilton's long-time understudy in the England team in the mid to late 1980s, finally claiming the number one shirt for himself in the early 1990s. In all, he managed to accrue 43 caps in an eight year international career.
Woods was a confident, brave, and agile goalkeeper, and his association with Shilton began at an early age when he signed for Nottingham Forest as an apprentice in 1976. Over the next three years he never made an appearance for Forest as they won promotion from the Football League Second Division in 1977 - Shilton had yet to arrive at this time - and then won the Football League First Division title straightaway. Shilton came to the club in September 1977 and did not miss a match.
However, Woods was given his chance to make an impact when he was selected by manager Brian Clough to play in Forest's League Cup fixtures that season, as Shilton had already appeared for previous club Stoke City in the competition and was therefore cup-tied. Forest reached the final where they played Liverpool at Wembley and Woods was thrust on to the big stage as an unknown outside of Nottingham, the game ended 0–0. He kept a second clean sheet in the replay and a John Robertson penalty won Forest the game and the Cup.
Woods' heroics were, however, never going to displace Shilton, whose form in the First Division was such that he was only ever going to miss a match if he became injured. Forest went on to win the League Cup again in 1979, but this time Shilton played. Woods was on the bench when Forest then won the European Cup with a 1–0 win over Malmö in Munich, and therefore gained a medal.
Queens Park Rangers
In the summer, Queens Park Rangers offered £250,000 for Woods, even though he was not yet 20 years old and had not made a First Division appearance. The move took place and Woods settled into Second Division life as QPR's first-choice goalkeeper. He played two seasons there before Norwich City offered £225,000 to take Woods to East Anglia.
As Norwich's goalkeeper, Woods firmly established himself as a top-class goalkeeper. In 1985, Norwich reached the League Cup final and Woods picked up his second winners medal when his side beat Sunderland 1–0 at Wembley, though Woods was fortunate not to concede when Sunderland player Clive Walker struck a penalty against his left-hand post. Unfortunately, Norwich were relegated at the end of that season, but England coach Bobby Robson had seen enough to take Woods on a post-season tour of Mexico and the USA. The following season, Woods won a second division championship medal as Norwich won promotion back to the top flight at the first attempt. In 2002, he was voted into the club's Hall of Fame.
After the tournament, Woods left Norwich for Rangers in a £600,000 deal as one of the original 'English invasion' of players (others of which included Ipswich and England defender Terry Butcher) brought to Glasgow by manager Graeme Souness (although this was at least partially because English clubs had been banned from European competition following the Heysel disaster, while Rangers were virtually guaranteed an annual European place).
Woods won a Scottish League Premier Division title medal and a Scottish League Cup medal in his first season. From November 1986 to January 1987, Woods set a British record by playing 1196 consecutive minutes of competitive football without conceding a goal.This record was arguably beaten by Manchester United's Edwin van der Sar after 75 minutes of their game against West Bromwich Albion on 27 January 2009.
Meanwhile, Woods won another Scottish League Cup winners medal with Rangers, even though Celtic regained the league title and won the Scottish Cup in 1987/88. Woods also suffered the ignominy of being sent off in an Old Firm game against Celtic after a spat with opposing centre forward Frank McAvennie - a misdemeanour which led to Woods and clubmate Butcher securing criminal convictions for "behaviour likely to cause a breach of the peace".
Rangers regained the Scottish Premier League in 1989, though Woods missed half the season with an ear infection which, crucially for a goalkeeper, affected his balance.
By the summer of 1991, Woods had won another Scottish title medal with Rangers. In the close season, however, manager Walter Smith, concerned at the implications of a UEFA ruling to limit the number of foreign players eligible to compete in European club competitions, opted to replace Woods with Andy Goram of Hibernian, a goalkeeper eligible to play for Scotland and therefore able to play for Rangers without breaching the 'three foreigner' rule. By that point, Woods had accumulated 24 caps as England made steady progress through their qualification for the 1992 European Championships.
Woods is one of the few goalkeepers to actually score a goal for the club.
In August 1991, Rangers accepted an offer of £1.2 million from Sheffield Wednesday manager Trevor Francis and Woods headed to Hillsborough.
Wednesday had just won the League Cup and promotion to the First Division, so Woods was back in English football's top flight again after a six-season absence.
His club career was also full of disappointments in 1993, as Wednesday reached the League Cup final again but lost 2–1 to Arsenal. A few weeks later, Woods finally played in an FA Cup final as Wednesday took on Arsenal yet again, this time drawing 1–1. They were set for another 1–1 draw in the replay and thus penalties before a last-gasp Andy Linighan header in the closing seconds of extra time made it over the line, with Woods shouldering some of the blame, and Arsenal emerged victorious again. Ironically, both Linighan and Woods were former Norwich players, and the goal meant that Norwich City, rather than Sheffield Wednesday, qualified for the UEFA Cup, the following season.
After Sheffield Wednesday
By 1996, Woods found himself out of favour at Wednesday and had a short loan spell at Reading before moving to the USA to play for Colorado Rapids.
In October 1996, Graeme Souness, now manager at Southampton negotiated his loan from Colorado Rapids as cover for Dave Beasant, with a view to a permanent transfer. This loan deal involved a 7-1 defeat at the hands of Everton, and in his fourth appearance he broke his leg at Blackburn Rovers and returned to the USA to recuperate.
He then returned to England for spells at Sunderland and Burnley before retiring from playing in 1998.
In the international fold, Woods was once again Shilton's back-up in the England team, but he was given his debut in a friendly against the USA in Los Angeles. He was rarely left out of an England squad again over the next five years.
Woods went to the 1986 FIFA World Cup in Mexico as Shilton's potential replacement; he was not required to play and England exited in the quarter-finals.
While at Rangers, Woods received his fifth England cap - and his second start - in a 2–0 win over Yugoslavia at Wembley which inched England further towards qualification for the 1988 European Championships. Woods came on as a substitute for Shilton twice in 1987; and started two matches - a European Championships qualifier against Turkey and a goalless draw against Scotland at Hampden Park in the Rous Cup. Two more starts would follow in the subsequent season prior to the European Championships in Germany.
England suffered two embarrassing defeats in the opening brace of group games at the 1988 European Championships, and therefore Robson could afford to rest Shilton for the third and final group match, against the USSR, which had been rendered meaningless. Woods therefore played his first match in a competitive finals - his 13th in total - conceding three times as England rolled over with spectacular ineptitude.
By now, another goalkeeper had emerged as a potential successor to the ageing Shilton, with QPR's David Seaman receiving a first cap in a draw against Saudi Arabia in Riyadh. However, Woods was still regarded by Robson as his primary understudy for Shilton, who had, by now, earned his 100th cap and was about to break Bobby Moore's record of 108. Also on the scene was Dave Beasant, who won two caps as a sub as Robson checked out other goalkeepers, but Woods remained Robson's first choice if ever Shilton was unable to play. As all this went on, England qualified for the 1990 FIFA World Cup in Italy.
Robson chose Woods and Seaman as Shilton's understudies in the initial squad, but days before a hand injury to David Seaman forced Bobby Robson to drop Seaman and replace him with Beasant. England went to the semi-finals, where they lost on penalties to West Germany.
There is an urban myth that Robson had considered substituting Shilton prior to the penalty shootout which eliminated England in favour of Beasant (a renowned penalty stopper), but decided against it. However, in 1990, the rules governing substitutes stated that five substitutes (normally including one goalkeeper) had to be nominated from among a team's reserve players - with only two being allowed to come on. Woods was the only nominated goalkeeper among England's five substitutes - so there would not have been any question of Beasant replacing Shilton. (This rule was changed for the 1994 World Cup, when any player in the 22-man squad not named in the starting XI was eligible to come on as substitute).
Woods did not play in the World Cup, Robson chose to keep Shilton in the side for his 125th and final cap for England in the third place play-off match against Italy after their semi-final defeat. Robson also quit afterwards and successor Graham Taylor instantly installed Woods as his number one.
He went to the 1992 European Championships as England's first choice keeper and kept clean sheets in his first two matches. Unfortunately, England couldn't score in either so victory was crucial against hosts Sweden in the last group match. Sweden won 2–1, however, so England were eliminated and Woods had suffered major disappointment in his first (and ultimately his only) tournament as England's number one keeper.
He stayed in the side the following year as England stuttered in their qualification campaign for the 1994 FIFA World Cup, losing a crucial match in Oslo against Norway in the process. Then, after a bad defeat against the USA in Boston during a summer tour in 1993, Taylor dropped Woods and, after trying two other keepers, installed Seaman in the side. Woods, after 43 caps, would never play for England again