11:00am Saturday 20th October 2012
INTERNATIONAL recognition, a Premier League debut at Chelsea and a bumper new Blackburn Rovers deal, life has certainly picked up for Jake Kean since being thrown on the scrap heap by Derby County.
Rovers’ 21-year-old reserve goalkeeper will take his place on the substitutes bench at Pride Park this afternoon and, after committing himself to the club until 2016 on Thursday, can afford himself a knowing smile.
A little more than three years ago, Kean was left facing an uncertain footballing future after being told by his boyhood club he was no longer wanted.
The rejection came as a hammer blow at the time but now, having been snapped up by Blackburn Rovers just two weeks later, he admits it was probably a blessing in disguise.
He said: “Security is what everyone is looking for with regards a club and this feels like the right place for me to be at the minute. I was happy to sign.
“Derby released me. It was a difficult transition for me, coming through the youth set up there and then getting released and having to look for a club. It is nice that I can go back with my head held high.
“There was a change of management a couple of months before the decision to hand out professional contracts was made, I think they wanted to bring their own people in, which is understandable, and it is probably one of the best things that has ever happened to me.
“I did feel ‘what happens now’? There are many who are going to be in the similar situation this time as well and wondering what is going to happen and looking for a club. It is difficult but if you are good enough someone will take a chance with you.
“If you are willing to keep pushing, keep fighting and keep knocking on doors then people are going to take notice and ultimately give you a chance.
“It was a period of about a week an half. I got released by Derby on the Thursday and went down to train with Portsmouth the week after and came straight up to Blackburn the following Monday and never left.
“Confident is the wrong word, in my opinion I couldn’t afford to be confident but I was optimistic. It was brilliant when I came, the facilities and the staff, and it felt like the right place. If they were going to offer me something I was always going to sign.”
As part of his development, Kean has spent spells on loan at both Hartlepool and Rochdale and played for England under 20s in a 2-1 defeat to France last year.
He followed that up with an impressive Premier League debut on the final day of last season at Chelsea and now, battling Grzegorz Sandomierski and Seb Usai for the number two shirt, is looking for more of the same.
“It was a long way from Brentford away with Hartlepool,” he said. “It made all the hard work and all the hours you put in worth it.
“You have to be very mentally and physically tough as a goalkeeper. The mental side of it is massive but you can’t let little things affect you. “This is just the start. I was lucky enough to get a chance to play in the first team in 19 and I have experience in the lower leagues but I have not done anywhere near enough to be recognised as a first choice goalkeeper yet.
“I have competition with Greg and Seb but my goal is to push Robbo and if it happens that I get a chance to keep the shirt and to keep playing.
“I played for England under 20s against France off the back of Hartlepool and that was brilliant. “If that opportunity ever came again I would like to play for them again.”
© Copyright 2001-2013 Newsquest Media Group