20th October – Matt Jansen

Everyone knows that injuries play a huge part in football and some players get really unlucky and have their careers ruined by them, Matt Jansen definitely falls into this category.

In 2002 the striker was involved in a motorcycle accident and almost lost his life while on holiday and after six days in a coma it is understandable that he could never reach the level that he had previously been at. The saddest part of his story is the fact that he was on the fringes of the England team at the time and some people thought he was unfortunate to miss out on a place in the 2002 World Cup team.

The 37 year old started his career at Carlisle United and made his debut during the 1996-97 season and helped the club gain promotion from the Third Division. He also won his first piece of silverware at the club after they won the Football League Trophy against Colchester United after coming on as a substitute in extra time. Jansen made a quick start to the following season and found the back of the net nine times in 23 games before being linked with moves away from the club.
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He first rejected Manchester United as he wanted to be somewhere that could guarantee him games and signed for Crystal Palace in 1998 for £1 million. Although they were relegated from the Premier League Jansen proved his quality and scored three times in eight games before getting off to a positive start in Division One with seven goals in 18 games. This convinced Blackburn Rovers to sign him for £4.1 million and he would justify his transfer fee by scoring on his debut against Tottenham Hotspur in January 1999.

Once again, his club failed in their attempt to avoid relegation and he had to prove his ability in Division One. After a slow 1999-00 season he found his feet and was a very important part of Blackburn’s promotion to the Premier League in the following season, scoring 23 goals. Jansen was then helped the club stay in the Premier League with 10 league goals and also scored six goals in five games in the League Cup, including the first in the 2-1 final win over Tottenham.
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However, in the summer he had his accident and struggled to get back into the Blackburn team and joined Coventry City on loan in 2003 where he scored twice in nine games. At the start of the 2004-05 season he did get back into the Blackburn team and after two goals in eight games it seemed like he was beginning to rediscover his form, however a lot of people felt that he hadn’t recovered mentally from his accident and was struggling with the pressure of Premier League football and therefore decided that he should take a break from the game.

In May 2005 he signed a new deal with Blackburn suggesting that he was going to be given another chance but this didn’t happen and he was released on 11th January 2006. Two days he later he signed for Bolton Wanderers but after just seven appearances he was released.

Jansen did not return to football until March 2009 when he signed for Wrexham and he scored once against Northwich Victoria before leaving the club. Since he has played for Leigh and Chorley as his former teammate Garry Flitcroft was manager at the clubs and persuaded his friend to play for him. Jansen is now player-coach at Chorley.
Jansen Chorley
The final word can go to Dean Saunders, who coached him at Blackburn and signed him for Wrexham. “He’s not doing it for the money; he’s not earning a lot. He wants to come and get back to enjoying playing football again. Matt has done it to help me. Matt is a class player but I am not expecting miracles. He will hopefully show the bits of quality I know he has got in him.”


29th August – Stephen Carr

Stephen Carr is one of the few footballers in the world that has retired from the game and then came back to produce some of the best performances of his career.

The right back announced his retirement in December 2008 but came out of retirement in 2009 and went on to play until 2013. Carr was a consistent player all through his career but when he came back he seemed to have even more passion for the sport and did everything he could to help influence games.

Carr started his career at Tottenham Hotspur and went on to make his debut on the 29th September 1993 away to Ipswich Town. This would be his only league appearance until the 1996-97 season when he became first choice for Spurs and became one of the most promising right backs in the Premier League. In the following season he featured in 38 league games.

In the late 90s and 00s he was definitely one of the best and consistent right backs in the country and picked up his first medal after helping Spurs win the League Cup, beating Leicester City 1-0 in the 1999 final. After scoring a fantastic goal against Manchester United in the 1999-00 season he was linked with moves away from the club but these never materialised.
Carr Spurs
Injuries would slow down Carr’s career as in the summer of 2001 he started having problems with his knee which required an operation. This meant that he missed all of the season. Carr returned in October 2002 and despite being out for so long he never looked like he had been away.

He played 272 games for Tottenham scoring eight goals before moving on to Newcastle United. Carr made his debut against Middlesbrough in a 2-2 draw. In his first season he played 26 games in the league but it was a disappointing one for the club as they finished 14th. The 2005-06 season was much tougher for him as a persistent knee injury kept him out for two months and he only played 19 league games.
The following season he once again picked up an injury, this time with a fractured foot. When he did return he played at left back and this was seen as the beginning of the end for him as he fell further down the pecking order in the 2007-08 season.

After failing to find a suitable club, Carr announced his retirement from the game on the 1st December 2008 but he unexpectedly returned signing for Birmingham City on the 23rd February and made his debut the following day in a 0-0 draw against Crystal Palace. Carr helped the club win promotion and signed a new two year deal at the end of the season and was part of the impressive team that went a club record 12 games unbeaten in the Premier League. During the season he was also given the captain’s armband and led the team to victory in the 2011 League Cup final against Arsenal.
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However, at the end of the season they were relegated but Carr went on to make his 100th appearance for the club in a Europa League game against Portuguese club Nacional. Carr only played a further 21 times over the next two seasons after picking up several injuries and officially retired from the game with 500 senior appearances to his name at club level.

The final word can go to former Birmingham manager Alex McLeish. “He has done well – his hunger has been superb ever since he arrived. He is fully motivated with the kind of quality that counts in the Premier League – he’s always positive and he has got a winner’s attitude.”