Former Rovers 'keeper Jan Budtz has re-joined Doncaster Rovers however his return to the club also marks a change in role too.
Jan gained fame at Rovers when saving penalties against Manchester City in 2005 to knock the Premier League side out of the Carling Cup.
Jan, tell me about your new job here back at Rovers.
When I came back to live in Doncaster I got in touch the Foundation. I knew the guys well from my time here as a player. I was studying social work at Doncaster College and Eric Randerson said there could be an opportunity for me. Eric rang me about a month ago to say that they had an inclusion position coming up and for me to come down for a chat and here I am now!
Was working in social work something that you had always wanted to do?
It is, yes. It was what I was doing before I played in professional football in Denmark and then I was scouted by Rovers. I was a social worker in Denmark but the qualifications didn’t stand over here and that’s why I went back to college. I’m only playing football part-time now so when this role came up it was an opportunity for me to blend the football and social work sides so it was ideal for me. It’s also local and I know the people from in and around Doncaster from when I used to play so it ticks every box.
Can you tell me more about the people you will be working with?
My role is social inclusion officer so I’ll be working with various national and local partners on numerous projects including NCS, Kickz & Neighbourhood Alliance. The main aims are to engage with those likely to re-offend or be involved in anti social behaviour or even substance misuse. In a nutshell it is working with young people and engaging with them in structured activities instead of hanging around on street corners and getting up to no good. It gives them something to do, something to put on their CV. It gives them a base for future jobs and relationships, and a chance to make new friends.
Will it help being ex-Doncaster Rovers player?
Yes it will. When I spoke to both Liam (Scully) and Eric (Randerson) they said that it would help them tremendously when we go out to schools and they see that I’m leading the project. Hopefully my background will give me an opportunity to have their ear for a moment; for example the NCS project sounds brilliant and if I was a year 11 student I would love to get involved, hopefully if I get the chance to tell them all about it.
Most fans will remember your debut for Rovers. Just take us back to what was quite a momentous night when you came on as substitute.
It was and it was all a bit of blur for me then. Andy came off injured, which was unfortunate for him, and I came in and made a couple of saves before it went to penalties. At that time I’d only really been on the pitch for 15-20 minutes so there was no warm up, just straight on. I saved two penalties and then it ended with me getting ‘man of the match’ on Sky TV. It was a bit surreal back then but when I look back at it now, it was probably one of my biggest achievements. It was my debut in the side and I saved a couple of penalties against a really strong Premier League side, Manchester City, who are now one of the biggest clubs in the country.
You had to face England international, Darius Vassell, for one of the first penalties?
Yes, I did. I don’t know if he was a bit nervous seeing this big Dane in the net but he fluffed the first one and then I had to save two others. It was a great night for Doncaster Rovers.
Yes, there were a lot of celebrations and it almost made you legendary for Doncaster Rovers for just one game.
Yes it did, overnight really, and opening the papers the next day and seeing you’re the next big thing. Looking back to after the game we had quite a good run really. I remember we kept a couple of clean sheets in a local derby against Barnsley and we had a good cup run against Aston Villa and playing Arsenal, although we were unlucky there as they knocked us out on penalties. It was the start of something good for me at Rovers and then I left to play for Hartlepool. I don’t regret anything; I’ve enjoyed every minute of my football career.
You came over here from the Danish League. Were you playing part-time or full-time over there?
I was full-time over there but only for about three quarters of a year before I signed for Rovers. The Danish League is structured differently to over here. You play about 20 games before having a winter break for a couple of months and then play about 15 games. So in a season you play about 35 games with a break in the middle but over here you play 50 games without any breaks. It’s physically very hard as your body has to adjust to it. The sheer volume of fans and the way people get involved in the football over here came as a bit of shock but it’s something that I’ve got used to now and I wouldn’t miss it for the world.
So what happened after you left Rovers?
I remember speaking to Sean O’Driscoll, who was manager then, and he told me that I wasn’t in their plans but luckily I got a loan deal with Wolves for three months. I played a handful of games for Wolves in the Championship that year. After that, I signed for Hartlepool for two years. My family and I moved there and we bought a house up there. After the two years at Hartlepool, there were a lot of cut backs and things going on with the recession, as there was everywhere else in the country. I couldn’t find a club so we moved back down here and it’s been various non-league football from there ending up now with Gainsborough.
We met up with you when you were playing a friendly at Gainsborough. Did you ever think you would be joining Rovers in any capacity at that point?
No, it was a bit of a funny one. I knew I wouldn’t be playing that game as I’d played the previous three games so the manager wanted to play the other keeper. However, he put me in for the last ten minutes so I could play against my former club. I’ve always kept the door open and kept in contact with the people in and around Doncaster Rovers. It’s a place I’m very fond of and I’ve still got a lot of friends here, and I must say it’s great to be back.