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Paul Jones

Paul Jones is a former Welsh goalkeeper who was born in Chrick, Wrexham on 18th April 1967. Jones began his career with non league outfit Kidderminster, making his debut in 1986. After an impressive five year spell at Aggborough, he moved to Wolves, where he mostly served as backup. Jones clocked up 34 League appearances in a 5 year spell at Molineux. In 1996 he signed for Stockport, who were managed by Dave Jones. The keeper helped County reach the semi-finals of the Coca Cola Cup and also win promotion to Division One. On 27th May 1997 Jones made his international debut for Wales in a friendly against Scotland. It was the first of 50 caps.

In July 1997 Jones made followed his namesake Dave Jones to Southampton. He made his debut on August 9th 1997 in the opening day defeat to Bolton. Jones was an excellent shot stopper, although he was also prone to the odd mistake. His kicking was sometimes poor too. Nevertheless, Jones enjoyed a successful first season at the Dell, helping Saints to a respectable 12th place finish. On Boxing Day 1997 he saved a Itzhik Zohar penalty at Crystal Palace. Jones also played a key role in Southampton's 1-0 wins over Chelsea and Manchester United in January 1998. Saints had taken an early lead through Kevin Davies in both games, and had to withstand heavy pressure throughout. Jones was particularly impressive against United, making a number of point blank saves. He was deservedly named player of the season for 1997/98.

Jones suffered a slight dip in form during 1998/99, as Saints struggled at the wrong end of the table, narrowly avoiding the drop on the last day of the season. He was hit and miss the following campaign too. In 2000/01 Jones returned to form under Glenn Hoddle. He kept seven clean sheets in a row between January and March 2001.

By 2001/02 Jones's mistakes were happening far too frequently. He dropped a clanger in a 1-0 defeat at Derby in November 2001. A botched clearance against bottom club Leicester in March 2002, lead to two points being dropped. New manager Gordon Strachan had run out of patience by August 2002, bringing in Antti Niemi as a replacement. Jones initially kept his place as number one stopper, due to some decent performers between the sticks at the start of 2002/03. He soon lost his place to Niemi however, after his error lead to a 1-0 defeat at West Brom. Jones still made some important contributions that campaign. He was in goal for the FA Cup semi-final against Watford on 13th April 2003. Jones also became the first keeper to be brought on as a substitute in an FA Cup final on 17th May 2003.

Away from club football, Jones's international career thrived under the guidance of his former Saints teammate Mark Hughes. Jones kept goal when Wales scored a famous 2-1 win over Italy on 16th October 2002. He started the 2003/04 season well with Saints, keeping three clean sheets in a row in August. He also played in the first ever UEFA Cup match at St Marys against Steua Bucharest. Jones lost his place in the starting line up when Niemi returned from injury.

In January 2004 Jones made the surprise loan move to Liverpool, to ease their goalkeeping injury crisis. He performed well in his debut against Aston Villa, keeping a clean sheet in a 1-0 victory. Jones also started in Liverpool's 2-1 defeat at Tottenham a week later. Jones re-signed for Wolves later that month, linking up with his old boss Dave Jones yet again. He received a frosty reception on his return, making his second debut at Fratton Park in a 0-0 draw at Pompey. Jones also lined up against former clubs Liverpool and Southampton later in the season, but couldn't stop Wolves from being relegated back to the second tier. The Welshman lost his starting spot in 2004/05, as Dave Jones was replaced by Glenn Hoddle (Just as he had been previously at Southampton). Jones had a spell at Watford on loan between December 2004 and February 2005. He had another temporary stay, this time at Millwall at the start of 2005/06, before signing for QPR on a free transfer in February 2006. He played his final game for Rangers on 21st October 2006 in a 3-2 defeat at Sheffield Wednesday. Jones then had a brief stint at non-league Bognor Regis Town, before hanging up his gloves.

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