Former Port Vale youth team reject Matt Jones is earning rare reviews with Portuguese side Belenenses and has been linked with a move into the Premier League.
Jones, aged 28, has been an ever-present for Belenenses this season. The club, historically regarded as the “fourth largest” side in the country are in their second successive season in the top division and are lying in a comfortable fourth position.
28 year-old Jones joined the side in 2012 and earned promotion in his first full season…
28 year-old Jones joined the side in 2012 and earned promotion in his first full season. He was a virtual ever-present during last season’s return to the top flight. But it could have been very different for the youngster from Meir Park.
Jones was on Vale’s books as a youngster and was rejected at 14 years of age, apparently for being too small. It was a decision that he claimed made him “extremely disappointed” when he was interviewed by the Sentinel in 2009. However, Jones did not give up and he was duly snapped up by West Brom’s academy at the age of 17. Two years later, with his chances still limited, he left the Baggies to play college football.
The move Stateside was a massive success with Jones being named as Rookie of the Year in 2005. He also found time to graduate with a degree in Business Studies. The goalkeeper turned professional in the United States and was soon snapped up by Portuguese side Santa Clara in 2009. After a two year spell with the Azores outfit, he moved on to Madeira’s C.F. União before joining Belenenses in 2012.
Earlier this year Southampton manager Ronald Koeman was rumoured to be interested in Jones…
The keeper’s good form has sparked plenty of interest. He had a trial with Scottish side Aberdeen in 2011 and earlier this year Southampton manager Ronald Koeman, who judging by this season’s exploits is an excellent judge of players, was rumoured to be interested in Jones.
Matt remains something of an individual in the Portugal leagues. He is the only Englishman playing professionally in the country and what’s more, the Meir Park-born lad remains a Vale fan despite his early rejection by the Valiants.
Jones’ career path shows his determination to make the grade. Who knows what’s next, but should Belenenses retain their fine form, it’s not unreasonable to expect plenty of Premier League interest in the club’s English stopper.
Matt Jones Factfile
Born: 11 May 1986, Meir Park
Clubs: Western Mass Pioneers (US), Santa Clara, C.F. União, Belenenses (all Portugal)
Honours: Promotion 2012-13