Whatever happened to Liverpool’s Rob Jones?
Rob Jones was born in Wrexham on Bonfire night in 1971. As a talented youngster he was overlooked by his hometown club and instead signed as a youngster with the renown Crewe Alexandra youth academy under the stewardship of Dario Gradi. Jones impressed enough to warrant Gradi offering him a professional contract when he was 17 in December 1988.
Jones proved an efficient and effective right back during the four years he played in the Crewe first team. He made 75 league appearaces for the Railwaymen, scoring two goals, until in early October 1991, Liverpool manager Graeme Souness was tipped off about a talented young player making a name for himself at Gresty Road. Ironically, Souness had been tipped off about another Crewe player, but was so impressed with the performace that Jones put in, he felt he must act quickly to land the young right back. An offer of £300,000 was accepted and on the 4th of October Jones signed with Liverpool
It would be a meteoric rise. Jones would make his Liverpool debut just 48 hours later against Manchester United, coming up against an in form Ryan Giggs at Old Trafford. Despite only having played fourth division football up until this time, Jones acquitted himself brilliantly against the Welsh wizard and before the season had been completed, Jones had earned himself a full international cap and won his first trophy at Anfield, helping Liverpool defeat Sunderland 2-0 at Wembley to win the FA Cup.
Jones would be a first choice at Liverpool for the next five years but did suffer with injuries during this time. After the 1996 FA Cup final defeat to Manchester United, Jones was advised to take a six month break from football due to his recurrent back problems. After the break, he returned to action but injuries continued to interrupt his attempts to get back to full fitness. In February 1998 he played his final game for Liverpool when an injury to his left knee, despite having three operations, could not be cured. Jones was released from Liverpool in June 1999 having not played a game for over a year due to his injury problems. In all he played 243 games for Liverpool, without scoring a goal.
At this time Jones hadn’t given up hope of making a comeback and he joined West Ham on non-contract terms in July 1999. Jones made a single appearance in the Intertoto Cup but it was evident that the knee injury was limiting his performance as a player and Jones was forced to take an early retirement from the game in August 1999 aged 27.
Jones admitted that he “moped around for a few months” after hanging up his boots and didn’t know what to do with his life now that his football career was over. His wife however had always been interested in children’s nurseries and she went to college to learn more about it. Jones decided it was time for a change of focus and he began to look for a suitable property where he and his wife could develop their new shared dream of opening a children’s nursery. Joes located a suitable building in Stockton Heath and their first nursery opened shortly after.
“It was very successful” stated Jones in an interview recently “We’ve got four now, it used to be five but we sold the one in Stockton Heath.”
In addition to a managerial role at his nurseries, Jones links with Anfield have continued with him being part of the “legends” football team;
“My knee’s quite bad so I can’t play in the Masters tournament because it’s such a hard surface. But when it’s on grass I can just about manage the half an hour each way.
“I just love playing and even though the knee swells up, it’s worth it because I really enjoy it.”