Rob Jones (footballer, born 1971)
|Full name||Robert Marc Jones|
|Date of birth||5 November 1971|
|Place of birth||Wrexham, Wales|
|1999||West Ham United||0||(0)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
After starting his career with Crewe Alexandra, he went on to make a name for himself with Liverpool before finishing his career with a brief spell with West Ham United. He was capped eight times by England.
Crewe Alexandra (1987–1991)
Jones began his career with Crewe Alexandra, signing professional forms at the age of 17 on 20 December 1988 when Crewe were in Division Four. The right-back settled quickly, quietly going about his defensive duties until being spotted during the 1991–92 season, accidentally, by Liverpool manager Graeme Souness who was at Gresty Road looking at a different player. Souness put in an offer of £300,000 which was accepted, and on 4 October 1991, a month before his 20th birthday, he became a Liverpool player.
His debut for the Reds came on 6 October 1991, just 48 hours after he had signed on at Anfield, with a game at Old Trafford, where he excelled against United winger Ryan Giggs and was named Man Of The Match in a goalless league draw. By the end of the season, Jones had won over the coach, become a regular in the starting line-up, had gained his first international cap, as well as helped the Reds to the final of the FA Cup at Wembley – a final that saw Liverpool beat Sunderland 2–0. However, he was ruled out of England's Euro 92 squad due to shin splints.
Over the next four seasons he was a regular member of the Liverpool starting line-up and in the sides that beat Bolton Wanderers 2–1 in the 1995 Football League Cup final and lost 1–0 to Man United in the 1996 FA Cup Final.
When Liverpool signed midfielder Jason McAteer, who arrived in 1995, Roy Evans converted McAteer to right-back and employed Jones on the left-side in a wingback role as Liverpool changed from their normal 4–4–2 to an attack-minded 5–3–2 formation.
After the 1996 FA Cup final, Jones was advised to take a six-month break from football due to back problems. He returned to action, but the next two seasons were plagued by injuries, and in February 1998 he played what was to be his last game for Liverpool. An injury in his left knee could not be fixed, despite three operations, and at the end of the 1998–99 season, in which he had not played a game, he was released on a free transfer by new coach that year, Gerard Houllier, who was ushering in a new era at the club to eliminate the club's Spice Boys public image and stereotype.
West Ham United (1999)
He joined West Ham United, on non-contract terms, on 17 July 1999, and featured for them in a single Intertoto Cup game and featured in his second and what would be his final professional career match for West Ham United which lasted 45 minutes as a result of re-aggravating his knee, he retired shortly after this, having played his last senior game at the age of 27.
At international level Jones was eligible to play for Wales, as he was born in Wrexham, but it was Graham Taylor who selected him and gave him his international debut for England in the 2–0 win over France at Wembley on 19 February 1992 – just four months after he had made the move from Fourth Division football to the First Division. Injury forced Jones to miss the 1992 European Championships where he would have been the first choice right-back, but he went on to win eight international caps over the next few years.
Style of play
Jones had played 243 times for the Reds, earned several accolades and man of the match awards, although he famously never scored a goal for Liverpool. Teammates Steve McManaman described him to FourFourTwo magazine as the best defender he ever played with, naming him in his all time perfect XI alongside the likes of Zinedine Zidane, Luis Figo, and Roberto Carlos. Younger teammate Jamie Carragher also once said of Jones: "I played with Rob Jones a few times and he was a bit unfortunate with injuries and his best form was probably before I got into the team, when he was as good as probably anything in Europe at the time ... He was playing out of his skin and I think if he'd have stayed fit he probably would have gone on to win 70 or 80 caps for England instead of Gary Neville."
After failing to get over a knee injury that had severely affected him since late 1996, Jones announced his retirement on 28 August 1999, aged just 27.
Since his retirement, Jones and his wife have built-up Kids Academy, a franchise-based business of children's nurseries across the UK, but now called Evolution Childcare which also now extends into the United Arab Emirates. On 3 September 2014 Rob and his wife were seen in Abu Dhabi promoting the nursery opened at Abu Dhabi airport by Etihad.
In 2012, he released his autobiography, titled Robbed.
Third Place (Promotion)
- 1988–1989 Football League Fourth Division (Level 4)
- "Sporting Spotlight : Rob Jones". BBC Sport. BBC Sport.
- Young, Peter. "England in the European Championship - 1992 Squad Records".
- "Steve McManaman: Perfect XI". 1 March 2011.
- LFChistory.net. "Liverpool career stats for Rob Jones - LFChistory - Stats galore for Liverpool FC!".
- Austin, Simon. "Sporting Spotlight: Rob Jones". BBC Sport. Retrieved 2 January 2013.
- Pearce, James (5 December 2012). "Former Liverpool FC player Rob Jones rekindles his affection for Reds after injury cruelly ended his career".
- "Liverpool legends Fowler, McManaman and Jones return to club to help Kop kids". Daily Mail. 2 October 2013. Retrieved 2 October 2013.
- Pearce, James (2 October 2013). "Reds greats return to the fold to help next generation of players".
- Hunter, Steve. "Great new book for LFC fans". Liverpool F.C. Archived from the original on 19 November 2012. Retrieved 16 November 2012.