you remember where you were when John Jensen scored? And do you have the
t-shirt? And do you have any idea as to where Jensen is now? Regardless of your
answers, you will enjoy this blog.
When you think of goals and Arsenal, you think of
Ian Wright poking home the record-breaking 179th goal of his Gunners
career again Bolton Wanderers. You think of Dennis Bergkamp pulling off an
indescribable skill against Newcastle United before slotting the ball in the
back of the net. You think of Thierry Henry flicking the ball up with his back to
goal and then slamming a looping shot into the top corner against Manchester
United in front of the North Bank.
You do not think of John Jensen.
John ‘Faxe’ Jensen was a cult hero at Highbury and
was adored by the fans, even though he had more chance of hitting a cow’s arse
with a banjo than finding the top corner. Except for one occasion. But we’ll
come to that one later.
Jensen began his footballing dynasty in his home
country of Denmark when he turned out for Brondby in 1983 and enjoyed relative
success there; starring on their way to becoming a dominant force in the
country after a spree of titles late in the decade.
Jensen’s performances didn’t go unnoticed, and he
enjoyed a wonderful year in 1987 when he was voted as the Danish Player of the
Year, as well as notching his first-ever cap for the national team.
The year after he switched to Hamburg, but only
lasted two seasons in Germany, before calling it quits and retreating back to
his beloved Brondby.
Again, this was only temporary though, as 44
appearances and four goals later, he made what was to be the finest move of his
career, but only after helping his side to the semi-finals of the 1991 UEFA
1992 was an eventful year for this future icon,
involving a summer that neither he nor many will ever forget. Denmark were not
even supposed to be a part of Euro 1992, but not only did they just somehow
make the tournament; they bloody well went on and unbelievably won the damn
thing as well by stunning favourites Germany 2-0. Guess who scored in that
final? Oh yes it was indeed Jensen himself, who helped the Danes to their
finest hour with a brilliant goal before scooching on down to North London to
join George Graham as the Arsenal.
Jensen moved to Highbury as second choice. The
club had already had a bid turned down for Crystal Palace’s Geoff Thomas, and
Graham was desperate to get someone in to replace the Leeds United bound David
Rocastle. The move at the time cost the Gunners £1m, but also Graham his job
after bung allegations.
So while he didn’t join the Arsenal in the most
convincing of manners, Gooners up and down the country still had the fresh
images in their mind of Jensen’s corker in the Euro 1992 final playing over and
His career in North London didn’t start too bad at all as Arsenal went
on to record an FA Cup and League Cup double in his debut season in the red and
white, although he was unlucky to miss out on the final of the Coca Cola Cup
His luck didn’t improve the following campaign either, as Arsenal yet
again climbed their way to another cup final before injury struck for Jensen
and he was forced into the role of spectator as his teammates went on to lift
the Cup Winners Cup in 1994.
Amazingly, he had a chance to avenge his despair the following year when
Arsenal made it all the way to the final of the same competition in defence of
their crown. Unfortunately for the club, and for Jensen, they tasted the same
bitterness that the Dane had been inflicted with the previous year, as Arsenal
were unable to retain their trophy.
However, some ground breaking did happen to Jensen during that season.
As before touched on, some players, Alan Smith, Robert Pires, Robin van Persie to
name but a few, have an eye for goal. Nope, not Jensen though, his was more of
a blind spot; and he was all too aware of this.
It became the fans’ favourite past time to emphasise the fact that
Jensen was still without an Arsenal goal since moving in at Highbury, and
frequent chants of “We’ll be there when Jensen scores!” became a popular
activity on every matchday. Jensen, who tried bloomin’ hard for a defensive
midfielder to finally flood his goal drought, was greeted drones of “Shoooooot!” every time he picked up
possession of the ball and failed to ever smash the back of the onion bag.
Until one night.
One night when things all went so horribly wrong for the Arsenal. But oh
so right for Jensen.
The occasion was December 31, 1994. New Years Eve. And the clock was
ticking down on the year…but also Jensen’s goal famine.
Picking up the ball from the left of the box, Jensen dribbled his way
towards the corner of the penalty area, stumbling forward but managing to
maintain just enough control of the ball. He then brought his run to an
eventual halt, before bending an absolute pearler into the far top corner in
front of the North Bank that sent Highbury absolutely berserk.
Nobody could believe it, Jensen had scored! It didn’t even matter that
we lost that night 3-1 because after 98 matches, John ‘prolific’ Jensen had
scored for the Arsenal! Even t-shirts were printed afterwards and rocked around
Highbury with the motif ‘I saw John Jensen score’ on them.
However, unlike London buses, another didn’t arrive for Jensen and he
had to call time on his Arsenal career with just the solitary strike. Funnily
enough, while playing for Arsenal, Jensen had managed to notch a goal twice for
Denmark and did also tuck away a spot kick during the 1993 Charity Shield
against Manchester United.
That was it though for Jensen, who once again flew back to his comfort
zone of Brondby after 132 outings for the Gunners.
He played a further 90 times in his third spell at Brondby, scoring
three times, before giving up the full-time game in 1999 and accepting the job
of player/manager at Herfølge BK, a small Danish club, where he instantly became a legend by winning the
Danish Superliga at the first time of asking.
Jensen followed up this accolade with…relegation, the very next
season, and he retired from his playing days in football in 2002 after winning
69 caps for the Danes. Jensen went on to become the assistant manager at his darling
Brondby, working under Denmark legend and current Swansea City boss Michael
The pair finished their time at the club by lifting the double in 2005
before opting for pastures new and jetting over to La Liga. They didn’t last so
long in Spain, as one season at Getafe was enough to force Laudrup to resign,
ending Jensen’s time at the club in the process.
Jensen became his own man in 2009 by become the first-team manager of
Randers in Denmark. His reign lasted just 11 games at club, before he was fired
after nine defeats and two draws; ouch.
Not too long ago back in 2011, you may remember Jensen returning to
these shores (not in a playing capacity, he couldn’t do that to his baby
Arsenal) as the assistant to Steve Kean at Blackburn Rovers in January of that
year. What a dream team eh? Despite signing a one-year extension in the summer,
Jensen left his post in September.
Nowadays, Jensen just can’t stay away from his loving relationship with
Brondby, and returned to the club for a fifth time in October last year to
become the team’s consultant. Not sure what his job exactly entails there, but
hopefully for Brondby, he isn’t taking shooting practice.
While Jensen clearly doesn’t seem as if he is coming back to the Premier
League as a boss any time soon, his tenure in England will certainly never be
forgotten by his adoring Gooner faithful.
And now you know.