Friday’s Forgotten Footballer: Rob Jones
Full name: Robert Marc Jones
Date of Birth: November 5, 1971
Clubs: Crewe Alexandra, Liverpool, West Ham United
Position: Right Back
Rob Jones stated out at Crewe Alexandra in the old fourth division. He signed his first professional contract at the age of 17 but it wasn’t long before he was moving onto greater things.
The right back had begun to establish himself in the side before he was spotted by the then Liverpool manager Greame Souness. The Scot had come to Gresty Road in order to take a closer look at a team-mate of Jones.
Souness was so impressed by the Welsh-born right back that he made an immediate offer of £300,000 for the player. It was accepted and Jones joined Liverpool at the tender age of 19.
The teenager, hailing from Wrexham, had strong family roots at Anfield. His grandfather had won the first post-war Championship with Liverpool in 1947.
Thus the right back was already an avid Reds supporter before signing for the club.
Souness wasted no time in exposing Jones to the rigours of top flight football. Within 48 hours of becoming a Liverpool player Jones made his debut against Manchester United and faced the task of marking young hotshot Ryan Giggs.
By the end of the first season addition he won his first medal when Liverpool secured a FA Cup triumph against Sunderland at Wembley. In addition he gained his first cap for England as he was called up to the national side.
Unfortunately he missed the Euro ’92 due to an injury. It would later become a common theme in the latter years of Jones’ career .
Jones became a firm crowd favourite. He was affectionately christened ‘Trigger’ by his colleagues after the dim-witted Only Fools and Horses character.
He made the right-back spot his own and was ever-present in the following seasons enjoying further success winning a League Cup medal.
He suffered disappointment in the 1995-96 season when Liverpool succumbed to the genius of Eric Cantona in the FA Cup final. After the final he was recommended to take an extended six-month break from football to recover from a reoccurring back injury.
It marked the beginning of the end. In the next two seasons Jones saw little playing time due to niggling injuries. He was eventually released due to a knee injury which could not be remedied.
He featured in a sole game for West Ham United before announcing his retirement from the game in his prime, aged 27.
It was a disappointing end to a talented player’s career. He was firmly established as a regular for Liverpool and in his prime providing stiff competition to the youthful Gary Neville for the right back spot in the England side.
Jones has spoken about the difficulties he experienced adapting back to normal life. He admitted that he was unable to return to Anfield for over two years.
He also recognised the great support he received from family and friends. In particular he singled out Steve McManaman, who had invited him to Madrid on numerous occasions, and Jones revealed the breaks helped improve his frame of mind.
He made 243 appearances for Liverpool before being forced to retire prematurely. He was plucked out of the football world just as he reached his prime. Undoubtedly if it wasn’t for the consistent injuries Jones could have become one of Liverpool’s greatest full backs.
Nowadays he runs a chain of nursery schools in Warrington and is enjoying life away from football.