Jan Paul van Hecke has been speaking about his ‘special’ relationship with Blackburn Rovers following the conclusion of his loan with the club.
The 21-year-old Dutchman spent the season with Rovers, making 32 appearances and became a fan favourite during his time at the club, winning the club’s Player of the Season award at the end of the campaign.
Speaking to Brighton’s club media team, van Hecke revealed he believes he has a unique connection with Rovers that will continue even now his time with the club is over, saying: “I have a special bond with Blackburn now.
“I got a red card after a couple of games and everyone must have thought, ‘Who is this guy?’ but I came back into the team and I didn’t miss any minutes. I got the respect from the fans. If you give everything the supporters appreciate you.”
van Hecke also paid tribute to Mowbray, who is leaving the club after five years in charge: “From the first day everyone was really helpful, the manager gave me a lot of confidence to go and play my game.
“I am more physical and I know how to use my body better to defend, and on the ball as well I have learned a lot.”
van Hecke has certainly impressed in a Rovers shirt this season and should be proud at what he achieved.
To come into the Championship and perform the way he has is impressive and it would be a surprise to not see him get an opportunity with Brighton next season.
That is testament to Rovers and Mowbray, who committed time and coaching into a loan players development, and he isn’t the first to benefit from their spell with Blackburn, with countless others passing through the doors at Ewood Park and leaving as better players over the last five years.
Whoever Blackburn bring in, you hope that they have the same impact as Mowbray did, at the very least.