Some say he looks a little pudgy. Others complain he doesn’t have the speed to take on defenders. That Birmingham would not have let him go if he were that good. Something of an international journeyman, he has played for ten clubs in a space of ten years, spanning six different countries. Why then did Roberto Martinez continue to pursue Jean Beausejour, following the 2010 World Cup, until finally signing him in January 2012?
After just 15 minutes had gone at Sunderland last Saturday, a sublime cross came over from the left wing that Arouna Kone should have buried to put Latics 1-0 in front. It was the kind of precision pass that David Beckham might have provided in his heyday, curling away from the goalkeeper with pinpoint accuracy. Pure artistry. Neither player is the type to run down the wing and beat a defender for speed. But both somehow are able to get in pinpoint crosses from the tightest of situations, an ability that few players possess. Although Beausejour only joined Latics in January, he led the squad for assists last season.
Let’s not forget his defensive qualities either. Forming a strong partnership with Maynor Figueroa on the left hand side of the defence he provides key defensive cover. Ask Theo Walcott what it is like having Beausejour trail you – the Chilean rendered him totally ineffective in the memorable 2-1 win at the Emirates Stadium in April. Beausejour is not elegant, but is a complete player, the classic wing back – able to defend and create goals.
Jean André Emanuel Beausejour Coliqueo was born in Santiago in June 1984, of a Haitian father and mother from the indigenous Mapuche ethnic group. Beausejour remains a hero with the downtrodden Mapuche people. He started his professional career playing for leading Chilean club, Universidad Católica in 2002 before moving to provincial Concepción where he played for a year. Within the following three years he’d serve stints at Servette of Geneva, Grêmio of Porto Alegre, Brazil, and Gent of Belgium. After returning to Chile for a couple of years he spent the 2009-2010 year playing for Club America, Mexico City’s biggest club.
Beausejour has made 40 plus appearances for Chile, playing under flamboyant Argentinian coach Marcelo Bielsa for almost three years. Not only did he score the winning goal against Honduras that helped Chile to qualify for the knockout stages of the 2010 World Cup, but he was to play in a classic Bielsa system that had three central defenders and two wing backs. In November 2011, he and four other players were suspended by Chile FA for 10 matches after arriving in “poor physical” condition, allegedly drunk, before a World Cup qualifying match against Uruguay.
Given Beausejour’s career record of lack of continuity at any one particular club and his suspension from the Chilean national team it was therefore a calculated gamble taken by Roberto Martinez to bring him to Wigan from Birmingham City. However, Beausejour has become a key player in the tactical system adopted by Roberto Martinez. His start to the current season has been marred by a niggling injury but he remains one of the players whose name would be penciled in first on the team sheet. He is 5 ft 11 inches tall and physically strong, not easily deterred.
Jean Beausejour has certainly settled into the Wigan Athletic lineup. A team player, he is solid in defence. When Latics have the ball he is always available, hugging the touchline, stretching the opposition defence. He rarely loses the ball and has a few tricks up his sleeve with quick footwork. His crosses can create havoc in even the best of defences, whether from open play or set pieces. Given his technique one might expect him to more often take direct shots on goal, especially from free kicks. He has proved an excellent signing up to this point and one hopes that his years of wanderlust are over. At 28 years old he is nearing the peak of his career. The best is yet to come, especially if he is encouraged to go for goal from free kicks.