Sorry if SEB
But this is great...
Stoke City's Kenwyne Jones prefers to do his talking on the pitch
The striker Tony Pulis says can be 'out of this world' on his day will be Stoke's main man at Wembley
Kenwyne Jones will lead Stoke City's attack against Manchester City in the FA Cup final at Wembley. Photograph: Dave Thompson/PA
The Observer, Sun 8 May 2011 00.05 BST
Kenwyne Jones is Stoke City's record £8m signing but he hardly seems content at the prospect of performing before 90,000 at Wembley in Saturday's FA Cup final against Manchester City. The 26-year-old has scored 11 times since moving from Sunderland last summer, a return that shows he is still searching for the consistent finishing touch possessed by the elite 20-goal-a-season band some believe he can join.
Yet ask about Tony Pulis, his manager, who says that he can be "out of this world" on his day, and Jones offers what proves to be a regulation spiky response: "I might do interviews but I don't pay attention to journalists. Everyone [is] always trying to make somebody in the mould of someone else. I really and truly don't pay attention."
How about John Terry's declaration that he is the best header of the ball in the Premier League? "If he said that – I never read it, it was told to me. All you can do is play football. You can get that compliment and it's fine, but it's just words," he says.
What of taking on Roberto Mancini's side? "Again," Jones says, sighing, "Manchester City is a very big football club, they've a massive fan base, resources, and world-class players. So it is going to be a test. We're just looking forward to doing our bit."
Producing what is required has been Stoke's way throughout the current campaign. After securing a fourth Premier League season since returning the club to the big time, Pulis now plots how to win their first FA Cup final and take the old pot back to the Potteries. A 5-0 shellacking of Bolton Wanderers in the semi-final at Wembley was as resounding a result as could be hoped for. Yet, predictably perhaps, Jones is unsure if this has altered the "boring Stoke" label the team attracts.
"If we won every game 10-0 next season we'd still be called 'boring Stoke'. It's not going to make a difference," he says. "I don't know where it comes from, you tell me. Everyone says it, but the thing is you report it, it's always there to read. We won 5-0, so what does that say?" Jones then offers his own answer: "It's sometimes nice to watch paint dry, you know that?"
The back story of the boy from Trinidad's Point Fortin is worth a glance. Not that Jones is keen to discuss it. His father, Pamphile, and his uncle Philbert inspired him to play football. While Jones took his back-flip goal celebration from Philbert, who was a star for the Trinidad & Tobago squad that nearly qualified for the 1990 World Cup, Pamphille was in the army, a career Jones considered.
"That was a long time ago. I've told this story many times. It wasn't mandatory, just a personal choice, making decisions in life, either you do one thing or you do the next, just for the sake of it," Jones says.
What attracted you to the army? "Nothing attracts you to the army," he says, indignantly. "I don't think anyone grows up thinking: 'I love the army.' It's still a route into playing football in Trinidad while having job security. It's not like I wanted to fight. It has nothing to do with not liking uniforms. My dad was in the army, it wasn't like I hated or didn't like authority."
To make it as a professional Jones decided against a college scholarship in the United States and instead hawked himself around Europe on trial. "This is really going back in history, but I had a few [trials] in England and Scotland and another in Holland," he says.
Try-outs at Manchester United and Middlesbrough in 2002 and later at West Ham United and Rangers came to nothing before he landed at Southampton seven years ago. Yet suggest that Jones took the harder option in declining college and his ire is sparked again: "I don't think it's the harder road. Because if you go to college you tend to lose that fire for playing football."
Finally, Jones played for his country against England in the 2006 World Cup. How will the Cup final compare? "Making the World Cup is a great achievement, playing in the Premier League is a great achievement: they all rank in the same place."
Discussion over, a photographer inquires if he can take a quick snap. "No," Jones says. Then he explains he agreed only to speak to the written press. Otherwise, he adds: "I would have told that lot to fuck off."