Indomitable Lions: Joseph Desire Job was a strange signing to make but ended up as Middlesbrough’s surprise package
Joseph Desire Job was not the most outgoing person both on and off the pitch. But the Cameroon international knew how to get the job done.
No more so than in the Carling Cup final against Bolton Wanderers when he scored the opener after only a couple of minutes and then won a penalty shortly afterwards.
In this respect few Boro players can claim to have made a greater contribution than Job at the Millennium Stadium.
And, for a while, there really was only one Job on Teesside.
True, he blew hot and cold during his time with the Boro. There were many games when he did not make the hoped for impact.
However, his slight appearance was deceptive. He quick off the mark, excellent at inter-linking play and at times clinical in front of goal.
Still, Job was a strange signing for Boro to make in the summer of 2000. He was a full Cameroon international, but he had made limited appearances for his club Lens.
In addition, for an orthodox striker, his goals-per-games record in France was not exactly great.
It also didn’t look as though he was on Boro’s radar for much of the summer.
Yet manager Bryan Robson was clearly impressed enough to fork out £3m for the 22-year-old, who arrived at the Riverside at the same time as Alan Boksic, Christian Karembeu and Noel Whelan.
If the figures are correct, then Job actually cost more to sign that Boksic. That, naturally, does not take into account Boksic’s eye-watering wages.
In terms of seeing out his contract and his immense Carling Cup contribution, it’s possible to argue that Job gave better value for money than Boksic.
He was certainly given no time to settle into his new environment in the Premier League.
He went straight into the starting line-up for Boro’s opening match at Gordon Strachan’s Coventry City, where he was paired up front with Boksic.
Even better, Job marked his debut in style by scoring the opening goal of the game in under 20 minutes, when he headed home from close range following a left-wing run and cross from Boksic.
Afterwards, Job’s career on Teesside turned into a bit of a rollercoaster ride.
He failed to hold down a regular place and spent part of his second season back in France when new Boro boss Steve McClaren sent him out on loan to Metz.
When Job returned to the Boro, he was sidelined for a while with a serious injury which he suffered in a clash of heads with West Brom defender Darren Moore.
However the Cameroonian recovered to experience his greatest moment as a Boro player in the Carling Cup Final.
Later that year, in the December of the following season, Job scored Boro’s second goal in their UEFA Cup win against Partizan Belgrade at the Riverside which ensured that McClaren’s men qualified as group winners for the knock out stages.
He did not start Boro’s Premier League defeat at Birmingham City on a freezing Boxing Day.
However Job had to take off his warm track-suit when he came on as a sub when fellow striker Mark Viduka went off injured mid-way through the first half.
Job was restored to the line-up along with Szilard Nemeth for the clash with struggling Norwich City at the Riverside on December 28.
Boro were enjoying the games coming thick and fast and were busy on three fronts at the time.
In addition to going great guns in the Premier League they were soon to head off to tackle League Two side Notts County in the third round of the FA Cup.
They were also due to take on Austrian side Grazer AK over two legs when the UEFA Cup competition resumed in February.
The Norwich match attracted a superb holiday crowd of 34,836 to the Riverside, which is still the stadium’s record attendance.
Competition for striker places at Boro was tough following McClaren’s swoop for world class duo Viduka and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink.
So this was a great opportunity for Job to show off his qualities to both his gaffer and also a capacity home crowd.
That’s exactly what he did. He scored twice in a three minute spell early in the second half as Boro comfortably went on to take all three points.
Joseph scored his first when sliding in to poke home a Stewart Downing free kick from just two yards.
Then he was sent clear by a clinical through ball from Frank Queudrue and took his time before slotting the ball through the legs of advancing keeper Robert Green.
Although Boro scored only twice they were in complete control all the way through against a Canaries side which was struggling badly in the league.
McClaren’s men launched attack after attack, particularly in the first half, with 20-year-old winger Downing torturing the Norwich defence and supplying a large number of crosses.
In fact the Middlesbrough-born player also went closest to adding to the score, twice bringing fine saves from Green.
Boro went on to beat Notts County by 2-1 in the FA Cup tie at Meadow Lane, but later went down by 3-0 at Manchester United in the fourth round.
They beat Grazer over the two legs but were knocked out of the UEFA Cup in the next stage by a lively Sporting Lisbon side.
The Portuguese, who included a certain Fabio Rochemback in midfield, played some superb enterprising football and won deservedly 3-2 at the Riverside.
However the win was not without a few nervous moments after substitute Job had scored one of the great Boro goals with a quite remarkable bicycle kick.
Job played the full 90 minutes of the return fixture at the Estadio Jose Alvalade but Sporting cemented their overall advantage with a 1-0 home win.
Norwich were virtually tailed off at the bottom of the Premier League for much of the season, winning just three games up until the end of March.
They suddenly sprang to life in the April, winning four and drawing one during a remarkable six-match spell which actually gave them a chance of last day survival.
Unfortunately the Canaries were unable to maintain their upturn in form and were stuffed 6-0 in their final match at Fulham. They were relegated as a result.
At the same time as the Canaries were preparing for life in the Championship, Boro were securing a second consecutive season in Europe.
Mark Schwarzer’s dramatic last gasp penalty save from Robbie Fowler ensured that Boro earned a nail-biting 1-1 draw at Manchester City.
As a result McClaren’s men finished in seventh place and were able to look forward to a second European campaign which was eventually to take them all the way to the final at Eindhoven.
Job took no part in the second European adventure because he spent the season – which was his final one with Boro – on loan at Saudi Arabian side Al Ittihad.
He certainly left the club with his head held high. Joseph’s whole league career with Boro was spent in the Premier League, scoring 19 goals in 94 appearances.
In the summer of 2006 he was offered a trial at Watford and spent pre-season training with the newly promoted Hornets.
However he was not offered a contract at Vicarage Road and returned to France to link up with Sedan, before moving to Nice.
Now long retired, Job runs a series of businesses in France promoting social development, particularly with African communities.
At the Boro he was a quiet but likeable player and something of a surprise package.