North Wales ace Chris Maxwell is an FA Cup hero at Big Sam’s expense

BLACKPOOL, ENGLAND - MARCH 10: Chris Maxwell of Blackpool celebrates his sides first goal during the Sky Bet League One match between Blackpool and Tranmere Rovers at Bloomfield Road on March 10, 2020 in Blackpool, England. (Photo by Lewis Storey/Getty Images)

Chris Maxwell of Blackpool saved three West Brom penalties in the FA Cup shoot-out to secure his League One side a famous victory (Photo by Lewis Storey/Getty Images)

North Walian goalkeeper Chris Maxwell enjoyed one of the finest days of his professional career as his penalty shoot-out heroics inspired Blackpool to an FA Cup giant-killing over Premier League outfit West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.

The 30-year-old from Penrhyn Bay, playing his first game since December 19 after being struck by coronavirus over Christmas, made three spot-kick saves, denying Matheus Pereira from the last pen to win it 3-2 for the League One underdogs after the match finished 2-2 following extra-time.

Maxwell had spent several days laid up in bed with the virus only to return in style to seal the Tangerines a place in the fourth round at the expense of Sam Allardyce’s side.

Born in St Asaph, Maxwell began his career progressing through Wrexham’s youth system, and signed a one-year professional contract in June 2008, which was extended under the management of Dean Saunders in January 2009, keeping him at the club until May 2010.

Maxi spent a six-month loan spell at Welsh Premier League club Connah’s Quay Nomads during the 2008-09 season, making a big impression in 20 appearances before being called back by Wrexham in January 2009.

In April 2009, Maxwell made his first team debut for the Dragons at the age of 18. He went on to start the remaining three league games of the 2008–09 season.

After playing in all 2009-10 pre-season games, Maxwell was joined at Wrexham by the more experienced Sam Russell. After only four games of the campaign, Russell was sidelined with a dislocated elbow, allowing Maxwell the opportunity to start.

Maxwell went on to play 21 consecutive games and kept 10 clean sheets during Russell’s absence, securing an extension to his contract keeping him at the club until the end of 2010-11.

The Welshman dislodged Russell to play the last nine games of the campaign, keeping a further five clean sheets. A number of defensive club records were broken; clean sheets, goals conceded and the first season where no more than two goals were conceded in a single game.

Maxwell was recognised by being named the Wrexham Football Association Young Player of the Season.

During 2010-11 pre-season, Maxwell was joined at Wrexham by Scott Shearer, who like Russell had much experience.

Maxi found himself once again fighting for a starting place, but took over the No 1 shirt just 10 games into the new term and soon started to attract the attention of higher league clubs.

He cemented his claim to the keeping role when Shearer left the Racecourse during the January transfer window.

Wrexham managed a play-off spot, but lost out to Luton Town in the semi-finals. Maxwell won WFA Young Player of the Season for the second year running.

Maxwell remained at Wrexham for the start of 2011-12. After a frustrating spell under new player-manager Andy Morrell, starting only 11 times after losing the No 1 position to Joslain Mayebi, he decided he wanted to leave the club and was subsequently released.

He joined Football League newcomers Fleetwood Town, but on transfer deadline day in January 2013, Maxwell rejoined Wrexham on loan for the remainder of the season after Mayebi was ruled out with an injury for the rest of the campaign.

Maxwell went on to pick up his first career honour, winning the FA Trophy at Wembley with Wrexham beating Grimsby Town on penalties.

The Dragons went on to play at Wembley a second time where they lost to Newport County in the Conference play-off final.

Next up for Maxwell was a loan move to Conference Premier Cambridge United on loan until January 2014.

It proved a highly successful stay, the North Walian conceding just 10 goals in 24 league games and establishing another club clean sheets record.

Maxwell then returned to Fleetwood to fight for a regular first-team spot and this was achieved as he helped The Fishermen win the League Two play-off final, securing promotion to League One and a new contract for himself until summer 2016.

On May 16, 2016, Maxwell joined Championship side Preston North End. He was a regular for the first two seasons, but played less of a prominent role in the next two. He was released by the Lilywhites in January 2020, having been farmed out on loan to Hibernian during 2019-20.

Maxwell joined Blackpool on 24 January 2020, on a deal until the end of the season. He signed a new two-year contract at the end of 2019–20, taking him to the summer of 2022.

He has been capped by Wales at under-17, U-19, U-21 and U-23 semi-professional level. Maxwell was called into the senior side during the build up to UEFA Euro 2016, due to an injury to Danny Ward.

Maxwell remained with the squad during preparations but did not make the final squad when Ward made a full recovery.

Maxwell now has more than 200 Football League appearances to his credit.

Among the many personal club awards he has won in his career, he can now add an unofficial one – FA Cup hero.

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