Ask football fans to name a classic football hardman and there’s a high chance that many, if not most, would name Vinnie Jones first.
The retired midfielder, who played for the likes of Chelsea and Leeds United but is best remembered for his two spells with Wimbledon in the 1980s and ‘90s, became notorious for his brutal tackling and fiery character.
Jones took no prisoners during matches - and presumably during training, too, for that matter. The guy was an animal.
It’s not unfair to suggest that Jones, 56, may have struggled to have become a top-level footballer if he was born 20 years later.
A product of a bygone era, you don’t get players like Jones in football these days because referees are no longer permitted to pass a blind eye to challenges that endanger players’ safety.
Can you imagine Vinnie Jones playing in the VAR era? He’d been permanently suspended.
After hanging up his boots in 1999, Jones went on to become a successful actor, appearing in a host of hit films including Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch and Mean Machine.
Vinnie Jones's punditry debut was a classic
But the former Wales international always kept a close eye on football and even made his punditry debut in January 2019 for an FA Cup fourth-round tie between AFC Wimbledon and West Ham.
Jones, who’d curiously been hired to provide analysis by BT Sport, had viewers creasing up with some of his comments over the course of the night.
The 1988 FA Cup winner admitted he would take out Mark Noble early doors, if he was playing for Wimbledon, to send a clear message to the West Ham captain’s teammates.
“Noble’s a good lad in midfield,” Jones said. “If I was gonna rattle anybody early I think it would be him because he makes West Ham tick, so I think one of the boys would want to get about him early doors, to show the others ‘your main man’s took one here today, so you’re next on the list’.”
West Ham found themselves 2-0 down at half-time and Jones had some interesting tactical advice for the Hammers’ manager at the time, Manuel Pellegrini.
”If I were West Ham I'd banging it up to Andy Carroll and winning the knock-downs,” the footballer-turned-actor said.
Jones also made an observation about West Ham’s players, many of whom were playing with gloves. It was a chilly night, after all.
Vinnie added: “If I was a Wimbledon player and saw nine or 10 of the West Ham players come out with gloves on I would’ve really fancied it tonight!”
Some viewers expressed their dismay at some of Jones’s ‘prehistoric’ viewers, but most were cracking up:
Almost three years after his debut, surely it’s time for BT Sport, Sky Sports or another major broadcaster to give Jones a second crack at punditry.
If that happens, we’ll certainly be tuning in!
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