Former Derby County trainee Kean enjoys happy return to Pride Park with Blackburn
FORMER Derby County trainee Jake Kean celebrated his first appearance at Pride Park Stadium with victory against his hometown club.
Kean joined Blackburn Rovers after he was released by the Rams in 2009, at the age of 18.
Now 21 (he turns 22 early next month), he is currently Rovers' number one goalkeeper – and keeping ex-England international Paul Robinson out of the team.
Kean, who hails from Allestree, helped Blackburn knock Derby out of the FA Cup on Saturday, courtesy of a 3-0 fourth-round win over Nigel Clough's men.
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"I was on the bench when we came to Pride Park in the League earlier in the season, so this was the first time I've played here," said the former England Under-20 international.
"It wasn't really strange, because having never played for the first team at Derby, there was no sentiment about it.
"It was more about personal pride for me and coming back and winning.
"I live in Manchester now but I've still got strong family connections here.
"My sisters go to school at Woodlands, my brother works here and so does my dad, who is a police officer.
"I had family in the crowd and they were behind me all the way.
"I've got mates who are Derby fans but I think they all wanted me to do well."
As well as his family ties to the area, Kean also remains close with several Derby players.
"I know Frank (Fielding) from Blackburn and also Ross Atkins from my time at Derby, so I'm good friends with them both.
"I'm also good friends with OB (Mark O'Brien) and I go on holiday with Jeff (Hendrick) and Ross."
After being told he could leave Derby, Kean did not have to wait long to find another club.
"When I was released, it was a tough couple of hours for me before I got a call from Portsmouth to go down there for a trial," he said.
"I ended up going to Blackburn and I haven't looked back."
Kean spent time on loan with Hartlepool United and Rochdale before making his Rovers debut against Chelsea on the final day of the Premier League season last term.
Saturday's Cup tie was his 10th appearance of the current campaign.
"It's been brilliant for me," he said. "I didn't see it coming at the start of pre-season.
"But as a goalkeeper, you've got to be ready for your chance when it comes and, thankfully, I've taken it.
"Paul Robinson has been brilliant with me and to work with and learn from someone like that day in, day out, has been great.
"When I first arrived at the club, I was in awe of him – and I still am."
Kean was largely untroubled against the Rams, apart from a second-half scare when his clearance was charged down by Conor Sammon before he managed to scramble back to save Jamie Ward's long-range effort on goal.
He added: "I had a fairly quiet afternoon – apart from the work I decided to make for myself!
"Other than that one moment of madness, I didn't have too much to do and managed to keep a clean sheet.
"To be honest, I don't think the result ever looked in doubt.
"We were the better team from the outset and the goal just before half-time helped us.
"It definitely gave us a lift and I think you could see that in the second half, with the way we defended and the confidence we showed."