EFFERVESCENT Clarets goalkeeper Brian Jensen has vowed to celebrate his 10th year at the club by reclaiming the number one spot.
Jensen penned a 12-month contract extension on his return to pre-season training, which includes provision for a testimonial in recognition of his outstanding contribution at Turf Moor, and means he is poised to be the first player since Derek Scott (1974/75-1984/85) to play in 10 successive seasons with Burnley.
Brought to the club by Stan Ternent on a free transfer from West Brom in June, 2003, the Beast has since made 307 appearances in all competitions for Burnley.
The 37-year-old Dane made just four appearances last term due to injury and the form of Lee Grant but, after making a welcome return to the starting XI for the final game of the campaign against Bristol City, he admits he’s rejuvenated and ready to fight for the jersey.
“I always said that Burnley was my first priority so I’m really pleased that the contract is signed, done and dusted,” said Jensen.
“There’s been people talking about me retiring, and others saying that I’m only waiting around for a testimonial. That is certainly not the issue. That is secondary.
“I’m here to get the number one spot back, to fight for the shirt, and I want the supporters to know that.
“I’m dedicated to Burnley FC. My family is settled and I’ve always loved it here. The club has looked after me and I’ve done my very best for the club.
“It’s always been my first priority to sign for the club, and to have signed for my 10th year makes me very proud.
“It feels good to be one of the few that’s achieved that, and it’s also nice to get recognition of that with a testimonial.”
Jensen is no stranger when it comes to competing for the No.1 shirt. During his time at the club, Danny Coyne, Mike Pollitt and Gabor Kiraly have all tested his mettle, but he insists it’s an experience that’s helped him develop as a player.
“Having to compete makes everybody a better player regardless of whether you’re a keeper,” he said.
“The competition means you always have to push yourself and be the best you can. It’s healthy, you need it and I’ve had it all the way through my career. It’s definitely made me a better player.”
As he approaches a decade of service, Jensen, who has featured for five managers over that course, has done it all from saving penalties from Wayne Bridge and John Obi Mikel in the memorable League Cup triumph at Stamford Bridge, featuring in the two-legged semi-final against Spurs, winning a play-off final at Wembley, playing in the Premier League and saving Michael Carrick’s penalty in victory over Manchester United at Turf Moor.
“I don’t feel I have anything to prove,” Jensen insisted. “Everybody knows by now that I’m going to do my very best to get the shirt back.
“With my age, it’s important to prove to people that I can still do it. I’ll just take the challenge on, that’s what I’m here for, and I’m looking forward to it.
“There’s been a lot of good moments so it’s hard to pinpoint one that stands out.
“To play in the play-off final at Wembley, and to play in the best league in the world stands out, but there’s been some good games, some good players and it’s been very enjoyable.
“And the club has progressed really well, even though we’re going through a little bit of a change at the moment.
“All clubs go through that during the development process. That’s another challenge for us, and the gaffer to take on and that’s what we’re doing now.
“It will take time, we’ll have to be patient, but with the balance and mixture we’ve got in the squad, I think we can do really well this coming season.”
He added: “In terms of the testimonial, there’s Manchester United, Real Madrid and Barcelona, and other big ones, so if any of them would like to come to little Burnley that would be nice!
“But there’s loads of opportunities and I know the club will help out in the best way it can. We’ve got a whole year to get the best possible outcome.
“One thing we’ll ensure is that it will be a serious game.
“It’s going to be a pre-season match so it’s not going to be a joke. There will be some good players on show to attract a crowd, but it will also be a serious game of football.”
Meanwhile, goalkeeper Jon Stewart has also signed a deal that will see him have a second season for the Clarets.
The former Bournemouth keeper provided back-up to Grant and Jensen for much of the season, before spending a spell on loan with Alfreton Town.
The 23-year-old played a massive part in helping the Derbyshire club retain their Blue Square Premier status, finishing on the losing side only twice in 11 games.
And Stewart may be allowed to move out on loan again to a Football League side to continue his development after spending pre-season at Turf Moor.
Elsewhere, Clarets’ teenager Cameron Howieson came off the bench to help New Zealand draw 1-1 with Japan in a warm-up game for the London Olympics.
The 17-year-old came on in the 66th minute of the 1-1 draw in Tokyo.
New Zealand’s next warm-up is against South Korea in Seoul tomorrow night.
The Kiwis then finish their preparations with a friendly against the United Arab Emirates before arriving in England as part of a 154-strong Olympic team.
In the 16-team football tournament, Cameron’s side faces Belarus, Egypt and Brazil in Group C.