Brian Jensen after clash of heads with David Connolly of Oxford
With West Bromwich Albion welcoming Burnley to the Hawthorns on Monday night, it is hard not to think of a keeper who endeared himself to both sets of supporters - Brian Jensen.
Nicknamed ‘the Beast’, Jensen joined West Brom from AZ Alkmaar in 2000 and displaced Chris Adamson as Albion first-choice keeper. Adamson is actually the man credited for giving Jensen the Beast moniker, which has stuck with the Dane ever since.
Jensen would keep his place until future Baggies legend Russell Hoult turned up at the Hawthorns in February of 2001. The Beast, now tamed by the substitutes’ bench, could only watch on as Albion kept a record number of clean sheets during their 2001/2 promotion winning season.
West Brom brought in Joe Murphy to bolster their goalkeeping options for the Premiership campaign. The ex-Tranmere stopper was memorably called into action when Hoult was sent off early in the game against Liverpool at Anfield.
His first touch in top flight football was to save Michael Owen’s penalty – an incredible moment for a young keeper who must have expected a routine afternoon on the bench.
Despite Murphy’s heroic moment, Jensen was still Gary Megson’s preferred sub keeper for the campaign. But following Albion’s relegation, the Beast would head north in search of more game time.
There he found a regular place in goal for Burnley. And Jensen would go on to enjoy a successful ten years with the Clarets, who found him just as loveable as the Baggies supporters did.
Pole in goal
When Albion next returned to the Premier League they signed Tomasz Kuszczak from Hertha BSC to play second fiddle to Hoult. The young stopper had to bide his time before his breakthrough moment in the penultimate game of the 2004/5 season at Old Trafford.
In a similarly fashion to Murphy, he replaced Hoult midway through the game and went on to make a series of important saves to earn Albion a precious point against Manchester United.
The arrival of Chris Kirkland wouldn’t stop Kuszczak, as he went on to consolidate his place in the starting line-up, drawing a close to Hoult’s remarkable run as the Baggies’ number one.
After dropping back down to the Championship, West Brom revamped their goalkeeping department, recruiting Pascal Zuberbuhler to try to fill the void left by Kuszczak. The experienced Swiss international’s uninspiring kicking skills and his nervy command meant he was fast demoted to Albion’s back up choice.
Dean Kiely, who also struggled with distribution deficiencies, would be Albion’s next number two of note. The Republican of Ireland keeper did a solid job in Tony Mowbray’s side before the signing of Scott Carson ended his run in between the sticks. Kiely would double up as a goalkeeping coach until he fully transition into a coaching role in 2011.
By that time, West Brom had already brought in the ideal supporting goalkeeping – Boaz Myhill. Myhill has a similar likeability to the Beast and earned the trust of the Hawthorns faithful with some fantastic displays in the absence of Foster.
The Ben Foster and Myhill combination has been one of Albion’s most impressive and reliable assets in recent years. A reminder of the calming stability a dependable number two goalkeeper can bring to a squad.
There should also be a mention for the Albion keepers that didn’t get to make as much of an impact on the pitch. Simon Miotto, Daniel Crane, Luke Steele, Lee Camp, Luke Daniels, Marton Fulop and Anders Lindegaard all played less than five league games for West Brom between them.
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