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.
Jansen CU
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.
Jansen BR
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.”

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8th May – Jack Charlton

English World Cup winners and one club men are few and far between but today marks the birthday of someone that fits into both categories.

Jack Charlton helped England win the World Cup in 1966 and spent all of his playing days at Leeds United where he also had a lot of success. But it could have been so different for the older Charlton brother as he had at first rejected the chance to play for Leeds and then another opportunity at the club clashed with an interview to become a policeman. Charlton decided to go to the trial and was given a contract.
Charlton England
He made his debut on 25th April 1953 against Doncaster Rovers in a 1-1 draw and he would have played more in the following years if he did not have to serve two years National Service but he returned to the team in 1955 and became a regular as the team gained promotion to the top flight. The next few years were tougher for the player and the club with a relegation and a number of managerial changes. Charlton almost left the club on several occasions but the 1962-63 season was the start of an almost decade long defensive line up which included Charlton and Don Revie was getting the club back to where they belonged, challenging for top honours. They were promoted to the First Division as champions in the 1963-64 season and made an immediate impact by going on a 25 match unbeaten run and almost winning the title.

After coming close in many different competitions in 1968 they finally won a major cup by beating Arsenal in the League Cup 1-0 and then followed this up with their first European trophy the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup. A season later Charlton helped Leeds to their first ever Football League title with the team only losing two games all season. In his penultimate season as a player he finally clinched the one trophy that had been missing from his collection by beating Arsenal 1-0 in the FA Cup final
Charlton Leeds
After being limited to 25 appearances and the signing of Gordon McQueen, Charlton decided to retire but he wanted to become a manager. In 2006 he was voted into Leeds United’s greatest XI.

On his 38th birthday he was given the Middlesbrough job. Strangely he never signed a contract and accepted lower wage demands but he did have a gentleman’s agreement in place that he could not be sacked.

It did not take him long to be successful as he won promotion for Division Two with seven games left to play and became the first manager outside of the top flight to be named Manager of the Year. He managed to keep the team in the league for a number of seasons but there was unrest in the boardroom and the board voted to sack him, however the chairman stepped in and overruled the decision. He did eventually leave the club at the end of the 1976-77 season.

His next job was at bottom of the Third Division Sheffield Wednesday and he turned them round completely and won promotion in his third season at the club. In the 1982-83 season he took the club to the top of the table unfortunately injuries struck and they slid down the table, finally finishing sixth. His greatest moment as Wednesday manager is still sang by their fans to this day as he was in charge when they beat arch rivals Sheffield United 4-0 which is known as the Boxing Day Massacre.

Charlton then went back to his native North East and first managed Middlesbrough again as a favour to the chairman and kept them in the Second Division after it looked like they were going down and then in 1984 he became Newcastle United manager. He only lasted one season but he did have to use a lot of young players and it was a difficult situation.

On the international he was also successful as a player and a manager, winning the World Cup in 1966 and then managing Ireland to their first ever World Cup in 1990, where they reached the quarter finals.
Charlton Ireland
The last word can go to his former Leeds United teammate Johnny Giles. “Jack turned it round for himself once he got his attitude right, he was outstanding: always competing and getting his foot in when it mattered. His contribution in the promotion season was vital; it was the start of something good for both him and the club