Nineteen years on from scoring THAT goal at Deepdale – to secure Rovers’ promotion to the Premier League – Matt Jansen has described it as an ‘extra special’ moment in his career.
The striker headed home the winner against Preston North End on May 2nd 2001, as Graeme Sounness’ side returned to the top flight after a two-year absence.
It was the 23rd league goal of a superb season for the exciting young forward and one of the most memorable, and meaningful, during his time in Rovers colours.
Rovers went into the midweek match knowing that a win would guarantee promotion and prevent any final day drama down at Gillingham, with Bolton Wanderers still in the hunt for a top two finish.
Roared on by a tremendous travelling support, Rovers were able to get the job done, with Jansen netting the winner 18 minutes from time.
“We knew it was in our hands,” said the former fans favourite. “We had another game, away at Gillingham, but we wanted to do it against Preston, so we could relax a little bit.
“It was obviously a local derby and there was lots at stake – win the game and you’re in the Premier League.
“There were a few nerves, but as soon as you get out on the pitch, with the fans behind you – it was like a home game for us, the number of Rovers fans that were there – it was an incredible atmosphere.
“And then to score the goal to take us up was obviously very special. It wasn’t a classic goal, but they all count!
“I had a really good season that season. I scored 24 goals, so it was really fitting that I could get that one that took us up as well, which was great.
“It wouldn’t have mattered who scored it, but looking back on it now, I’m so pleased that it was me because you live in Blackburn Rovers memory because of it, so it was extra special.”
Jansen says the game summed up the spirit within the squad, as Rovers created chance after chance, before finally making the breakthrough.
The 42-year-old heralded the togetherness and fighting qualities of the dressing room, which he believes was a major factor in their success that season.
“We had a slowish start to the season and then we were on fire after that and we caught up ground and we were playing well,” he added.
“We always believed in ourselves. We had a good squad and we had an incredible dressing room. We all got on with each other, we all socialised together in and out of the club, it was a brilliant dressing room and we were all fighting for each other.
“We had a lot of confidence going into the game, because we were doing so well, even though there was so much at stake, but we wanted to get it done and dusted, so everyone was pumped up.
“We were creating chances and even though Preston were already assured of a place in the play-offs, they were never just going to let us win.
“But we managed to get over the finish line, which was a big relief really.
“And then the evening, as a squad we all got on the coach and went to Utopia, the nightclub. Even Sparky!”
With the 2019-20 season postponed until further notice, Rovers have been showing some memorable matches from the club’s archives – so fans can get their football fix during these difficult times – in which Jansen has featured heavily.
Next up in the ‘Rovers Rewind’ series is the promotion-clinching clash against Preston, which will be shown in full on the club’s YouTube channel from 7pm tonight.
It follows the re-runs of other notable victories, including the 5-0 victory over Burnley, the 7-1 triumph over West Ham and the Worthington Cup final success over Spurs – all games in which Jansen was on the scoresheet.
And the dad-of-three, who has been watching the matches, insists it is very special to re-live some of those magical memories.
“You always want to reminisce with your kids, because my oldest was just a baby when I finished playing, so the other two didn’t get to see me play,” he added.
“So when the games are on telly it’s brilliant, because normally it’s ‘yeah dad, alright, you’ve told us this story 15 times!’, but it is always nice and they’re proud moments for me.
“I look back with really fond memories of that time.”