SUZANNE GELDARD: Beast must be thanked for the best memories
STAMFORD Bridge under floodlights, Brian Jensen shone.
The Beast basking in the beauty of a cup scalp in London’s West End, in which he had played a lead role. Burnley had already beaten Fulham in the earlier round.
But it was here that ‘Capital Punishment’, Clarets style, was truly born thanks – in no small part – to the great Dane’s heroics.
The event was sponsored by Carling, but if Carlsberg did cup ties...
After Ade Akinbiyi cancelled out Didier Drogba’s opener to force extra time, and then penalties against the Premier League heavyweights, Jensen’s spot kick heroics delivered the knockout blow.
Wayne Bridge and John Obi Mikel were thwarted by Jensen’s firm hand. Burnley had punched above their weight to seal their place in the quarter finals.
It didn’t end there of course. But that night of tension, drama and sheer elation perhaps best encapsulated an entire campaign for the East Lancashire underdogs, who carried the fight through to May and the win at Wembley that meant so much to so many. Few more so than Jensen, who played in all bar the first of that 61-game season.
His years of toil had finally led to triumph and the chance to face the team who inspired his love of the beautiful game.
Who can forget a clean sheet in the win over Manchester United? And that penchant for penalties playing its part as Michael Carrick’s spot kick was also saved.
It doesn’t get better for anyone of a claret and blue persuasion.
It’s fair to say it hasn’t for Jensen. The last two seasons have been quite the antithesis for the goalkeeper, who was first brought to Turf Moor in 2003 by Stan Ternent – the first of his six managers.
His contributions last term were seriously affected by the worst injury of his long career. A groin problem sustained against Peterborough in September proved hard to shake and he didn’t return to the squad until the following January. Even then he did not get further than the bench.
In some respects this season has been worse, fighting fit but playing understudy to Lee Grant.
His only appearances have been in the cups this year.
Saturday’s blunder against Barnsley, could signal his last competitive game in a Burnley shirt in this, his testimonial year. But it is no reflection of his 10 years’ service, and absolutely not the way he should be remembered.