Rob Jones: Hibernian success and English football memories

Photo by DavyJAllan who grants anyone the right to use this work for any purpose, without any conditions.


You retired in 2017. How are you enjoying retirement from professional football and how is life for you these days?

It is a strange one because I think when you play the word retirement is looked at as a word that you do not want to discuss even though you think about it. I knew I was coming towards the end of my playing career. My body was slowly giving up and it became difficult to get back fit and when you got back fit you got injured again and it was just a vicious cycle and then you fall a little bit out of love with football.

I have been retired three and a half years and I think looking back if someone else’s would have told me that I would retire through injury I think there might have been a little bit of my that thought I could have done a little bit more and gone on a little bit longer but the fact that I chose to retire myself knowing that my body had enough and that I could not do the things I wanted to and it became frustrating and I think that allowed me to put a full stop on Rob Jones the footballer scenario and my career and open up the avenues do to the coaching side.

Looking back it was the right time to retire and I am enjoying coaching which has become my passion and my drive in life and looking over the last year I have had the opportunity to spend a whole year at home with my children which when you are a footballer the supporters do not see that side of it because when I was a player I was quite intense and everything was focused around a Tuesday game, Saturday game and making sure that I prepare properly and unfortunately my family came a close second at the time.

I am really happy and I am looking to get back into football at some point in some capacity and I am in a really good place at the moment.

You played for Hibernian FC in Scotland. How do you look back on your time at the club and do you have any highlights or special memories?

Yes, My time at Hibernian FC was brilliant from start to finish. I was sold after three years and went to play in the English Championship which was probably manufactured a little bit by myself because I wanted to play Championship football and I wanted to test myself at that level and get the opportunity to go and play in the Premier League but the later was not available for me. I had three fantastic years and my youngest son was born in Scotland so he is now Scottish and there is that positive side to it too.

Edinburgh is such a beautiful city and Hibernian FC are a fantastic football club and their fan base were so warm and welcoming from day one and now Sunshine On Leith follows me around wherever I go and I have massive highlights from my time at Hibernian FC.

I had never played in Europe before and my first game for the club was in the UEFA Intertoto Cup against Odense BK of Denmark and I had new experiences all the time with the big standout being when we won the Scottish League Cup Final in 2007 and I was the captain that day. I went to Hibernian FC as a 6ft 7in unknown central defender and I came away three years later with everybody knowing who I was and what I was about. Hibernian FC and Scotland was such a memorable time for me and my family.

Following a successful loan spell you signed for Sheffield Wednesday. How do you look back on your time at the club and do you have any special memories or highlights?

“Sheffield Wednesday flag in the home end at Hillsborough” by Ben Sutherland is licensed underCC BY 2.0

I enjoyed every minute of my time at Sheffield Wednesday. I was brought up as a Sheffield Wednesday fan adds that little bit of extra spice and prestige to it. After an initial loan spell my deal was made permanent and I had a brilliant time under Gary Megson.

I was made captain of the club and four five years I lived every boy’s childhood dream I played and scored in a cup final, lifted a trophy and I played for and captained my boyhood club and there are not an awful lot of football players that can say that. I look back on that as I was very lucky and very indebted to the people that gave me an opportunity to do that but when you reflect on that kind of stuff it’s surreal sometimes.

I came into football late but Sheffield Wednesday is my club so there was always that added factor in there when I first arrived at the club that I am now sitting where all my idols used to sit and I am going to play where my idols have played and I used to stand in The Kop End with my uncle and cousin at Hillsborough Stadium watching the home games and I used to dream about playing on that pitch and thankfully that dream came true.

You accrued great experience at club level. When you look back could you say who are among the best players you played alongside during your playing career?

“nothing comes easy for the men in green and white”by incendiarymind is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Yes, I played alongside Scott Brown who is currently the Celtic FC captain and he was young and up and coming and he just had everything that the modern midfielder needed to have and it is no surprises that he went on to do what he did and continues to do.

Steven Fletcher is probably the best finisher I have come across in my playing career. He was sensational and ruthless in front of goal and he has also had such a prestigious career.

At Doncaster Rovers I played with James Coppinger who has recently made his 800th appearances for his football club which is just never heard off in the modern era of players moving here and there and he has been there for an awful long time and I believe he is retiring at the end of this season and to make over 800 appearances for one club is fantastic for him and his family.

David Murphy who is a defender who went on to play for Birmingham City is also a very good player. When I first arrived at Hibernian FC I got into a squad which was full of talent and that was apparent since day one and many great players from that squad went on to have great careers. Nick Weaver at Sheffield Wednesday who also played for Manchester City was a good player and you could see that he played at a high level himself including having played in Europe.

I have been fortunate to play with many good players so far in my career and when you are growing up you want to play with the best players and thankfully I have played with quite a few of them.

I can imagine in your position as a defender that you came up against many difficult opponents through the years. Could you say which opponents have stood out for you in terms of talent and ability?

“Lionel Messi 15” by Themeplus is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

When I played for Hibernian FC we played a pre season friendly at Murrayfield Stadium against FC Barcelona and I got the pleasure of playing against Lionel Messi and arguably he is the best player in the world and he has been for the last 15 years in my opinion and it was a privilege to be on the same pitch as him but it was a difficult match.

I played against John Carew when he was at Stoke City. Louis Saha at Everton FC, Carlos Tevez at Manchester City and also the Brazilian Robinho too. I would say that Alan Shearer was my toughest opponent. I remember when I was at Grimsby Town we played against Newcastle in the League Cup and we got beat 1-0 and Alan scored and played against one of my idols in him and someone who had captained England it was sensational to play against him.

“Robbie Keane vs. Raul Rodriguez” by araizavictor is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Robbie Keane was also a terrific player. I have been fortunate to play against many difficult opponents and there have been an awful lot of positives come out of a condensed career as a professional footballer and I believe that more positives and negatives have come out of my professional career.

Finally Rob. When you look back could you say who were the coaches and managers who meant a lot to you and played a key role in your development as a professional footballer?

Carlton Palmer was my manager at Stockport County and he is the one who gave me my first opportunity in professional football so I will always be forever indebted to him because he was fantastic with me.

Russell Slade was brilliant with me,he just got me and he is a really good guy and I learned a lot from him not just being a manager but also as a person and a man manager of a group of footballers.

“File:Mowbray Dinamo Moscow Celts.jpg” byНовикова Юлия is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

I loved Tony Mowbray. He was fantastic and he was a manager who had an aura about him and he just oozed respect from everybody. He was one of those people where when he enters a room you all know he is there. Tony Mowbray brought me to Hibernian FC.

Gary Megson was incredible we just got each other obviously both being Sheffield Wednesday fans made a bit of a difference and also Dean Saunders who was my manager at Doncaster Rovers FC. He was a great character and a great guy and he was just one of those managers where it just clicked and you get along with him.

I look back on my time where I have had quite a few managers during my career as a footballer but the above managers were the ones that really stand out for me and I have taken little pieces from them and take them into how I manage at the level I am at because they were all great for me.

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