His former club could certainly have done with his skill and flair over the weekend.

Carlisle United fans, though, had to make do with their memories of Matt Jansen as the former Blues hero returned to his home city on Saturday.

The ex-Premier League star, 42, was in the Carlisle’s Waterstones store to sign copies of his autobiography.

Jansen met scores of supporters in a signing session that lasted nearly three hours.

Many were Blues fans on their way to the afternoon’s League Two game against Cambridge, which finished in a 0-0 draw.

Jansen, who also attended the game at Brunton Park, said the opportunity to meet fans of his first club had been a joy.

“It was great to meet everyone at such a well-organised event,” said the former Blackburn and Crystal Palace favourite.

“I was overwhelmed by the turn-out.”

Jansen’s autobiography, entitled ‘What Was, What Is and What Might Have Been’, was published in September by Polaris.

The popular former striker, from Wetheral, wrote the book with the News & Star’s Carlisle United reporter Jon Colman.

The book charts Jansen’s rise from his youth team days at Brunton Park into the Carlisle first team under Mervyn Day, before he turned down Alex Ferguson at Manchester United in favour of a move to Palace.

He then joined Blackburn for £4.1m and was on the brink of England honours when an untimely bout of gastroenteritis cost him his international debut in 2002.

That summer he was strongly tipped for a place in the squad for the World Cup but narrowly missed out. Instead, Jansen went on holiday to Rome and suffered a moped accident which left him in a coma – and subjected him to long-lasting psychological problems.

The Cumbrian, who describes his struggles in detail in the book, later moved into coaching and management, and has become a strong advocate for mental health awareness.

He recently joined Prince William at an event in London to promote the Football Association’s Heads Up campaign.