Vinnie Jones Gave A Goalkeeping Masterclass 25 Years Ago Today
Midfield hard man turned Hollywood actor Vinnie Jones took on a totally different role 25 years ago: Premier League goalkeeper.
Shockingly, he was actually amazing at it. Jones had to take the gloves against a strong Newcastle United side and - with a generous St James' Park cheering his every athletic dive - proceeded to 'snatch' at the ball with some unusual lunges.
The reason for Jones's heroics was keeper Paul Heald being sent off and Wimbledon having used their maximum three substitutes. So Vinnie fronted up and took the baggy green shirt.
Today's the 25th anniversary of Vinnie Jones playing in goal at St James' Park.
The reflexes, the agility, the speed off his line. The Dons may have lost 6-1, but football was the winner here...pic.twitter.com/Jvxt9LV63f
- It's A Funny Old Game (@sid_lambert) October 21, 2020
The full-time score may have been 6-1 but it could actually have been a lot worse without Jones. The Dons were already 3-1 down when Heald got his red card after 57 minutes.
So keeping it down to three against a rampant Newcastle side - starring Les Ferdinand and David Ginola in attack - against 10 men was actually a decent achievement. At one point Jones made an epic double save, with his hands then his feet, to keep the Toon out.
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Usually Jones used his fists for simpler tasks like crushing the balls of his midfield rivals (ask Paul Gascoigne) rather than tipping away balls with his fingertips. Yet here we are.
"I nearly broke my cigar with one of those saves," Jones would later reminisce on Twitter. "I did enjoy seeing Les Ferdinand laughing after one of the other saves though, the Newcastle fans were brilliant that day I think they forgave me for grabbing GAZZAS b******* , just a little bit."
The Wimbledon cult hero left football three seasons after this, but went on to a surprisingly solid film career. After a star turn in Guy Ritchie's 'Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels', Jones went to Hollywood to act alongside Nicolas Cage and to fight Hugh Jackman's Wolverine in an X-Men film (admittedly 'The Last Stand', which was awful).
But it's his "last stand" at St James' Park that wowed 'Match of the Day' viewers in 1995, as he flung himself about the penalty area with abandon. If they gave out Oscars for unorthodox goalkeeping genius, he'd already be a winner.
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