Former Doncaster Rovers star hoping to guide Belgium to World Cup final tonight - and he's English
A former Doncaster Rovers star is hoping to guide Belgium to the World Cup final tonight - even though he's English.
Graeme Jones, who spent three years as a striker at Belle Vue in the 90s, will be hoping to see off France at the World Cup semi-final in Russia as assistant manager of opponents Belgium.
The striker, now 48, will be wearing the flag of Belgium on his chest tonight - and will be hoping to set up a crunch showdown with England in Sunday's final, should Gareth Southgate's side win tomorrow's second semi-final against Croatia.
He is right-hand man to Belgium boss, Spaniard Roberto Martinez - and the pair have helped to shape Belgium as one of the favourites for this year's World Cup.
Jones, who was at Rovers between 1993-96, first met and worked with Martinez when they were at Wigan - and his appearance on the touchline tonight is a far cry from his days as a postman in his native Gateshead.
Arriving at Rovers from non-league Bridlington Town in a £10,000 move, Jones became a firm favourite during his time at Belle Vue, grabbing 26 goals in 92 appearances.
His feats caught the eye of Wigan Athletic, joining them in 1996 and scoring 31 goals in his first season - a club record to this day.
He also got a total of four hat-tricks in his first season, going on to score 18 goals in the next two seasons, before joining Scottish side St Johnstone, on a £100,000 deal.
He first met Martinez in the mid 90s and the pair developed an instant bond - with many of Jones's goals created by the Spaniard.
This chemistry was rekindled when they came back together as a coaching team at Swansea in 2007, staying together for success at Wigan, Everton and, for the last two years, with Belgium. They are unbeaten since losing their first game, against Spain in 2016.
He revealed this week that Gareth Southgate had asked him to be his assistant with England’s Under 21s. The pair go back 10 years to when they did their coaching badges together.
Jones has the offer of a new contract with Belgium on the table but will consider his options after the World Cup and would now jump at the chance to manage in England.