Vincent Peter "Vinnie" Jones (born 5 January 1965) is a British actor and former professional footballer who played as a midfielder from 1984 to 1999 notably for Wimbledon, Leeds United and Chelsea.
Born in Watford, Hertfordshire, Jones represented and captained the Welsh national football team, having qualified via a Welsh grandparent. As a member of the "Crazy Gang", Jones won the 1988 FA Cup Final with Wimbledon, a club for which he played well over 200 games during two spells between 1986 and 1998. He also previously played for Chelsea and Leeds United. Jones appeared in Celebrity Big Brother 2010, where he finished in third place behind Dane Bowers and Alex Reid.
He has capitalised on his tough man image as a footballer and is known as an actor for his aggressive style and intimidating demeanour, often being typecast into roles as coaches, hooligans and violent criminals.
Jones started his football career in 1984 at Alliance Premier League side Wealdstone, during which time he combined playing football with being a hod carrier. He played one season with Swedish club IFK Holmsund in 1986 and helped the team to a victory in Division 3.
In the autumn of 1986, Jones moved to Wimbledon for £10,000. He was part of the 'Crazy Gang' team that won the 1988 FA Cup Final against Liverpool, the dominant English side of that era.
He was transferred to Leeds United in the summer of 1989, where he was part of a young side under the management of Howard Wilkinson. During his time there, he won promotion to the old Division One from the Second Division. After helping them win promotion to the top-flight as champions of the Second Division, Jones proved that he could thrive without the illegal side of his game, and under the stewardship of Wilkinson, he received only three yellow cards in the whole season.
Jones left Leeds United early in the 1990–91 season after losing his first-team place to youngsters David Batty and Gary Speed, as well as new signing
Gary McAllister – much to the disappointment of the Leeds fans – in order to seek regular first-team football. To this day, he remains a hugely popular figure with the Leeds fans; Jones has a Leeds United badge tattooed on his leg (after having helped them to the 1989–90 Second Division championship). Jones also showed his passion for the club when he returned to Leeds for Lucas Radebe's testimonial in 2006.
His former Wimbledon manager Dave Bassett signed him for Sheffield United on his exit from Elland Road, before selling him to Chelsea a year later. After just one year at Stamford Bridge, he was on his way back to Wimbledon, where he stayed until becoming player/coach of QPR in 1998, scoring on his debut against Huddersfield Town. Jones was once rumoured to take the vacant managers post at QPR but that failed.
He made his debut for Wales on 14 December 1994, three weeks before his 30th birthday, in a 3–0 home defeat to Bulgaria in the Euro 96 qualifiers. Despite being born in England, he qualified to play for Wales through his Welsh grandfather. The last of his nine caps came on 29 March 1997 in a 2–1 defeat to Belgium in a World Cup qualifier, also at Cardiff Arms Park.
Jones's international call-up was however greeted with consternation and even ridiculed by Jimmy Greaves, who said, "Well, stone me! We've had cocaine, bribery and Arsenal scoring two goals at home. But just when you thought there were truly no surprises left in football, Vinnie Jones turns out to be an international player!".
During his playing days, Jones was renowned for his "hard man" image, an aspect of his play that was frequently the target of criticism. He was sent off 12 times in his career, as well as holding the record for the quickest ever booking in a football match, being booked after just three seconds for a foul on the opposition player Dane Whitehouse in a Premier League tie between Chelsea and Sheffield United in 1992. In his autobiography, he recalls fondly: "I must have been too high, too wild, too strong or too early, because, after three seconds, I could hardly have been too bloody late!".
In one notorious incident in 1987, Jones was photographed grabbing Paul Gascoigne by his testicles in order to faze him.
He also was the presenter of the infamous Soccer's Hard Men video released in 1992, which featured archived footage of himself and many other "hard men" of the game, and included advice for budding "hard men". After the release of the video, Jones was fined £20,000 and given a six-month ban (suspended for three years) for "bringing the game into disrepute". Wimbledon chairman Sam Hammam branded Jones a "mosquito brain".
Even after this incident, Jones failed to stay out of trouble. After exceeding 40 disciplinary points that season, he was once again summoned to Lancaster Gate, but failed to appear. The FA banned Jones indefinitely. Jones explained that he had "mixed up" the date of the hearing, for which he received a four-match ban and was told by Football Association officials to "grow up". Jones commented later: "The FA have given me a pat on the back. I've taken violence off the terracing and onto the pitch."
Many of Jones's fellow professionals were quick to condemn both the video and Jones himself. One of his most vocal critics was David Ginola, who said, "Jones does not deserve to be considered a footballer. Getting kicked is part of the job in France as well as England, but the real scandal is that someone like Jones gets to be a star, to make videos and become an example for kids."
Other football activities
Jones has stated that he would eventually like to return to football, possibly to Leeds. Jones told Yorkshire Radio "I will come back without a doubt, Leeds fans gave me so much and it's a club very close to my heart."
Jones made an appearance in Ireland for Carlisle United, coming on as a second-half substitute in 2001 against Shelbourne, teaming up with friend Roddy Collins who was manager at the time.
In June 2010, Jones released a press statement stating that he was donating his 1988 FA Cup winners medal to the fans of A.F.C. Wimbledon, wishing their fans the best for the future. The medal will be displayed in the club's Kingsmeadow Stadium.
Jones made his 1998 feature film debut in Guy Ritchie's Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. He later starred in Guy Ritchie's next blockbuster Snatch as Bullet-Tooth Tony.
He became known to American audiences in the 2000 film remake of Gone in 60 Seconds, where he played "the Sphinx." Although Jones had a major role as well as significant on-screen time, he only had one line in the entire film, as his character was portrayed as a silent tough brawler.
Jones went back to his football days to play Danny Meehan in Mean Machine, a 2001 British take on the Burt Reynolds' film The Longest Yard (a.k.a. Mean Machine for its UK release). He plays a former captain of the English National Football Team, who is sent to prison and subsequently takes control of a team of inmates who play the guards.
He played another football role as Mad Maynard the leader of a Manchester United football hooligan firm, with scenes in a fictional London pub (the Feisty Goat), Paris and Rome in the 2004 film EuroTrip .
His next big piece was in the 2006 film, X-Men: The Last Stand, as the mutant, Juggernaut. Jones said that he would like to play Juggernaut in a spin-off. His line in the film, "I'm the Juggernaut, Bitch!", was based on a pre-existing Internet parody.
In 2007 he played the part of McStarley in "The Condemned", a depraved former British SAS commando who was purchased along with 9 other killers awaiting the death penalty to fight for their lives on an island.
Jones played a role of a professional killer in a Kazakhstani film called Ликвидатор ("Eliminator"), 2011. Jones's character is an elite assassin invited from abroad in order to eliminate the main character. Producers of the film have dealt with the language barrier rather interestingly – Jones's character is mute and does not say a single word throughout the film.
He also played a role in the Hungarian film The Magic Boys. The film was released in autumn 2012. The film's producer, Gabor Koltai, was arrested on major tax fraud charges in December 2010 and was remanded to the Budapest prison. He was released in April 2011 and is currently awaiting trial. The film co starred Michael Madsen and was directed by his father Robert Koltai.
He played a major role in the 2004 Japanese film Survive Style 5+, where he plays a thuggish hit-man from Britain who kills several people and, with the help of his translator, tries to discover what everyone's function in life is.
Jones also played a part in the film Kill the Irishman, where he played the character Keith Ritson, an ex-Hells Angels who works as an enforcer. He also played Mahogany in Midnight Meat Train.
In 2012, Jones voiced "Freddie The Dog" in Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted. He co-starred alongside Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger in the action/thriller Escape Plan, released in 2013.
In November 2002, Jones released an album of blues and soul songs on Telstar called Respect in the UK, as his musical debut under the tuition of Phil Edwards.
Vinnie performed a cover version of the song "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" on the popular British television show, TOTP2 in December 2002.
The opening track of Joss Stone 2007 album Introducing Joss Stone features a short speech by Jones.
In May 2002, Jones played a character in the music video for Westlife's single "Bop Bop Baby".
Jones also appeared in the US series Chuck – in episode 2 of the third series he plays an arms dealer (the main villain). In 2010 he was added to the cast of the NBC superhero/crime drama series The Cape.
Jones narrated the TV series Vinnie Jones' Toughest Cops. The series commenced airing in 2008 on ITV4 in the UK. Each episode to date has examined the work of a police force in a different country in the world, concentrating on dangerous aspects of the work. The first show concerned police in Colombia.
Jones was the first ever guest host for The Friday Night Project when it first aired on Channel 4 in February 2005. In the same year he also had a minor role in the film She's the Man as coach Dinklage. He also appeared in an episode of Extras playing an exaggerated version of himself.
Jones appeared on the first episode of the second season of Top Gear in their Star in a Reasonably Priced Car segment. He managed to make it around the track in 1 minute 53 seconds.
On 6 December 1998, Jones appeared at the World Wrestling Federation pay-per-view Capital Carnage, where he played up his 'hard man' image, acting as a special guest enforcer for the main event. Before the match he had a (staged) fight with fellow enforcer the Big Bossman and was "red carded" and kicked out. He came back at the end of the show to drink beer with "Stone Cold" Steve Austin and referee Earl Hebner. Jones returned to the promotion, now known as World Wrestling Entertainment, on 18 February 2007 at No Way Out, where he claimed he had "kicked Stone Cold's arse" on the set of The Condemned.
Brian Michael Bendis announced via Twitter on 28 July 2011 that Vinnie will be playing Johnny Royale in Powers.
Jones is also joined Eric Wynalda and Coby Jones as studio analyst for Fox Soccer Sunday broadcast of the Premier League.
Jones played the serial murderer M, later revealed to be Sebastian Moran, in the American TV Crime Drama Elementary, a modern update of the Sherlock Holmes stories, broadcast on January 10, 2013.
Celebrity Big Brother
Jones was a housemate on the reality television show Celebrity Big Brother 7, and celebrated his 45th birthday while he participated. Jones received loud cheers as he entered the house and was the favourite to win going into the house, but he did not maintain popularity with the public, the crowd chanted 'Get Vinnie Out' on the final night and booed him as he left the house after he finished in third place. Speaking of his experience on the show, he said: "It was like One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest in there – and I was Jack Nicholson."
In 1998 Jones published his autobiography, Vinnie: The Autobiography, which was later revised and reprinted a year later to include information on his first film appearance in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.
Jones is soon[when?] to be the star of a new comic book, Noble, written and drawn by Howard Chaykin.
During his football career Jones resided in Dronfield, near Sheffield. Jones married Tanya Terry (b. 1966) in 1994 in Watford. She has a daughter by her first husband, footballer Steve Terry. His son joined the British Army, completing his training in August 2008, and serves in the Life Guards. Jones, his wife, and her daughter live in Los Angeles.
Jones is a conservative and has suggested standing as an MP.
Jones was convicted in June 1998 of assault occasioning actual bodily harm and criminal damage against a neighbour in November 1997.
Jones was convicted in December 2003 of assault and threatening behaviour on an aircraft. in an air rage incident, during which he slapped a passenger in the face and threatened to murder the cabin crew while drunk on an aircraft. He was fined £1100 and ordered to perform 80 hours of community service. As a result of the convection Hertfordshire police revoked Jones' firearms license and seized the weapons listed on the license.
In November 2013, it was revealed that both Jones and his wife are being treated for skin cancer; his wife has suffered for several years, whereas Jones only discovered that he had cancer after a malignant melanoma below his eye was found.