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This article is part of Football League World’s ‘FLW Greats’ series, this content strand is where we look back at a player’s individual season and discuss how impressive they were…
In May 1999, just four years after they had lifted the Premier League title, Blackburn Rovers were relegated from the top-flight of English football, marking a quite remarkable and rapid fall for one of the oldest clubs in the game.
The following campaign in the first division would be an underwhelming one, with Rovers finishing firmly in mid-table, nowhere near either promotion or relegation by the time the final standings had been decided.
Things would, however, be rather different in the 2000/01 season, as Rovers brought their exile from the Premier League to an end in spectacular, and emotional circumstances, thanks in no small part to the contributions of Matt Jansen.
Having joined Blackburn from Crystal Palace during that relegation season two years earlier, this was the season when Jansen would really step up to the plate for Rovers, and his timing couldn’t have been better.
After firing in Rovers’ second to seal a 2-0 win over former club Palace on the opening day of the season, Jansen then scored what would prove to be the matchwinner in a 3-2 victory over Norwich City two weeks later, in the club’s first home game since the death of legendary club owner Jack Walker, who had done so much to bring the Premier League title to Ewood Park a few years earlier.
That sort of impact is something Jansen would continue to make for the rest of the season.
Across the course of the campaign, the striker would find the net on 23 occasions in the league – a tally only beaten by Louis Saha (27) for Fulham – with Jansen’s efforts directly contributing 16 points to Rovers’ cause. They would eventually be promoted by four.
Arguably Jansen’s biggest impacts for Rovers that season would come in Lancashire derbies at crucial moments in the campaign, netting twice in a 3-2 win at home to Preston in mid-January, repeating the trick with another brace in what remains one of Blackburn’s most iconic ever matches, a 5-0 thrashing of bitter rivals Burnley at Ewood Park, which appropriately in the eyes of many a Blackburn fan, would come on the 1st April 2001.
It was fitting, therefore, that Jansen’s 23rd and final goal of that promotion campaign would be the one that ultimately secured Rovers’ passage back to the top-flight, courtesy of a 1-0 win at Deepdale in their penultimate game of the season.
The season after that, Jansen would again be a key figure for Rovers as they re-established themselves in the Premier League, while also helping to lift the League Cup title, which included a goal for Jansen in the 2-1 win over Tottenham in the final, one of six he scored in the competition that season.
Sadly, however, a serious motorcycle accident in Italy in the summer of 2002 left Jansen out of action for some time, and when he did eventually return to action, the striker was able to really rediscover the form he had shown before the incident.
Even so, the contributions to the club that Jansen made throughout his time at Ewood Park, not least in helping win promotion back to the Premier League in the 2000/01 season that had started with them losing the person who many believe had brought them that famous Championship, means that Jansen himself will always be fondly remembered and roundly welcomed, at Ewood Park.