Blackburn Rovers’ Classic XI

Every club has its heroes. But equally, there are players who you might have forgotten about. These are the players that we love at Forgot About Him, and this feature is dedicated to them. It’s the turn of 1995 Premier League champions, Blackburn, next.

In 1995, Blackburn Rovers became only the second team to lift the Premier League trophy, pipping Manchester United to the title on the final day of the season. However, in an incredible turn of events, Rovers were relegated to Division One just four years later, before returning to the top-flight under the guidance of Graeme Souness in 2001. Since then, the East Lancashire club have had mixed fortunes in the Premier League, ranging from the dizzy heights of Europe, to mid-table obscurity, to relegation dogfights. Forgetting momentarily about the likes of Alan Shearer, Chris Sutton and Colin Hendry, this is their Classic XI.

Lars Bohinen spent eight years in England, playing for Nottingham Forest, Blackburn and Derby. Photo: alexao via Flickr

GK: John Filan

Filan signed for Roy Hodgson’s Blackburn in the summer of 1997, after spells at Cambridge, Nottingham Forest and Coventry. Initially having to play understudy to Tim Flowers, the club’s relegation and Flowers’ subsequent departure in 1999 saw the Australian promoted to first-choice ‘keeper at Ewood Park. However, the arrival of Brad Friedel in 2000 saw his chances diminish yet again, and he was sold to Wigan at the end of the season. Filan went on to make 184 league appearances in six years at the Latics, before finishing his career in 2008 in Australia with Sydney FC, where he is now goalkeeping coach.

RB: Patrick Valery

Another Roy Hodgson signing, Frenchman Valery was brought in from home-town club Bastia on a free transfer in 1997, after making a name for himself at Monaco in the mid-’80s. His stay in Lancashire was short-lived but now infamous, albeit for all the wrong reasons. In just 16 league games for Blackburn, Valery soon established himself as one of the club’s worst buys in recent history, with one fan on a Rovers messageboard stating how he was the first “professional footballer who couldn’t actually jump off the ground.” Needless to say, Valery was promptly offloaded back to Bastia at the end of the season. He retired in 2002 after a spell in Greece.

CB: Lorenzo Amoruso

Amoruso signed for Rovers in 2003, after six successful years with Scottish side Rangers. Renowned for his free-kick taking ability and scorchers like this one, the big Italian was anything but your average centre half. However, his stocky frame meant he possessed all the traditional attributes needed in order to be solid at the back – something which helped him captain Rangers to two league titles. Initially brought in as a replacement for Henning Berg, Amoruso was dogged by injuries during his stay at Ewood Park, featuring just 18 times for Blackburn in three years. He retired in 2006 after being released by Rovers, and briefly made a comeback for Sanmarinese side Cosmos in 2008.

CB: Nils-Eric Johansson

‘Nisse’ arrived at Ewood Park from German outfit Nuremberg in 2001 for £2.7million. The Swedish defender, who could operate equally comfortably at centre back and left back, was captain of his country’s under-21 side, and was signed by Graeme Souness in the October of Blackburn’s first season back in the Premier League. Although not a regular starter, Johansson managed to make 86 appearances in four years at Rovers. However, Ryan Nelsen’s arrival in January 2005 pushed the Swede further down the defensive pecking order, and he left in the close season for Leicester. Now 31, he plies his trade at AIK back in his native Sweden.

LB: Sebastian Pelzer

In 2002, Blackburn chief executive John Williams stated that the newly-signed Pelzer “could be pushing for a first team place from the start.”  However, in just over 18 months at Ewood Park, the German full-back, who had been signed from Bundesliga side Kaiserslautern, played just one match in a Rovers shirt – a 2-2 draw with Walsall in the League Cup, in which he was substituted after just half an hour. Pelzer left Blackburn in January 2004 for German second division side Eintracht Trier and went on to forge a mildy successful career in the lower-reaches of his country’s football pyramid, where he now turns out for FC Hansa Rostock.

RM: Anders Andersson

Andersson signed for Blackburn from Malmo in 1997 as one of Roy Hodgson’s first signings. The floppy-haired 23-year-old had forged an impressive reputation in Sweden but couldn’t replicate that form in England, making just four appearances for Rovers in just under a year, before leaving the club for Danish side Aalborg BK. The Swede then had four seasons in Portugal with Benfica and Belenenses, before ending up back at his first club, Malmo. A member of his country’s squads for the European Championships in both 2000 and 2004, Andersson retired in 2008 with 26 international caps to his name.

CM: Lars Bohinen

Bohinen’s early career saw him flitter around Scandinavian clubs, along with Young Boys in Switzerland, until Nottingham Forest came calling in 1993. Rovers, then Premier League champions, snapped up the Norwegian two years later but he couldn’t help revitalise a stumbling Ray Harford team. Harford left Ewood Park just a fortnight after signing Bohinen, who stayed for three seasons before joining Derby and then returning to Scandinavia, where he now works as a pundit. Although probably not ‘the best goal scored at Old Trafford ever‘ as the title of this video suggests, Bohinen’s individual effort against Manchester United in the 1996/97 season is certainly worth watching back.

CM: Giorgos Donis

Nicknamed ‘the Train’ in his native Greece, Donis was renowned for his bustling pace and his ability to score goals from midfield. He signed for Blackburn in the summer of 1996 from Panathanaikos, making him the first Greek to play in the Premier League. Donis failed to really make an impact during his time in Lancashire, however, and was eventually sold to AEK Athens in September 1997. After a brief spell back in England with Sheffield United and Huddersfield Town, the midfielder retired in 2001. Now manager of Atromitos in Greece, Donis is regarded as one of his country’s finest young managerial prospects.

LM: Javier de Pedro

After spending over ten years at Real Sociedad, where he progressed through the youth ranks and into the first team, making over 300 appearances in the progress, de Pedro joined Rovers with a glowing reputation in 2004. In just six months at Ewood Park, though, he failed to impress and turned out only twice before being released. The career of the midfielder, who was part of Spain’s 2002 World Cup squad, then began a downward spiral, stopping at, amongst others, Perugia, Burgos and Ergotelis before he called it quits in 2007. Forgetting about the slightly inappropriate choice of music, this video highlights some of de Pedro’s best moments whilst at Sociedad, even if it does begin with a missed free kick.

ST: Corrado Grabbi

When collating lists of the Premier League’s biggest ever flops, one name from Blackburn almost always pops up – Corrado Grabbi. An on-and-off profilic striker in the Italian Serie B, Grabbi was brought to the club by Graeme Souness from Ternana in Rovers’ first season back in the top-flight in 2001. The fee the club paid – nearly £7million – should have brought goals, but it didn’t. Instead, the Italian netted just twice in 30 appearances, before sheepishly returning to Italy two years later. After dropping down the Italian leagues even further, Grabbi finished his career in 2008, aged 33, with Swiss side Bellinzona.

ST: Martin Dahlin

The fourth Roy Hodgson signing in this list, and arguably the most high-profile. Having previously worked with Dahlin whilst managing Malmo in the late ’80s, Hodgson paid Italian side Roma £2.5million for his services in 1997. A veteran of 60 international caps for his native Sweden, in which he’d scored 29 times, big things were expected of Dahlin when he arrived in Lancashire. However, a return of just six goals in 31 matches for Rovers epitomised the current West Brom boss’ unsuccessful reign at Ewood Park, and Dahlin left the club for Hamburg, where he finished his career in 1999.

One Comment to “Blackburn Rovers’ Classic XI”

  1. George Donis wasn’t that bad. And as the manager of Larissa he defeated the Rovers in the UEFA Cup. Maybe the club should get him to replace Kean.

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