Cult hero Jan Jansson: the stylish Swedish midfielder was a relatively unsung performer in Vale’s supremely gifted 1996-1997 side.
Cult hero Jan Jansson
Name: Jan Jansson
Cult credentials: Unsung but cultured midfielder, successful Swedish import
Time at Vale: 1996-1999
When one thinks of John Rudge’s finest central midfielders, Jan Jansson probably wouldn’t make the shortlist. Let’s face it, he’d struggle to get past the likes of Ray Walker, Robbie Earle, Ian Taylor, Robin van der Laan, Ian Bogie and Andy Porter.
It’s perhaps for this reason, that the less well-regarded Jansson makes our list of cult heroes as he was still a fine player and an excellent signing in his own right.
Jansson followed the Rudge principles of mixing unknown “chancers” (Ian Taylor, Stewart Talbot, Andy Jones) with experienced, proven “campaigners” (Nicky Cross, Neil Aspin and in this case, Jansson). The midfielder had been playing for seven years in his native Sweden and won seven caps for Sweden before Rudge came calling.
The neat and tidy midfielder initially signed on loan before the move became permanent for a bargain £200,000 fee.
Jansson quickly earnt a reputation as a deadball expert and chipped in with the odd goal as an integral part of the 1996 side which recorded Vale’s most successful season since the 1930s.
Jansson’s two most memorable games differ widely in their importance to the Valiants.
During the memorable 4-4 televised draw with QPR, which is fondly remembered as one of the most bizarre in Vale’s history, he scored once and set up two more in Vale’s first-half onslaught.
Much more importantly, Jansson netted twice in the 4-0 final day thrashing of Huddersfield in 1998, which secured Vale’s safety and sent neighbours Stoke City down.
After 51 appearances and a creditable 6 goals he returned to Sweden to rejoin Norkopping and a well-earned place in the OVF hall of cult fame.