New signing is relishing another crack at Europe

Steve Jones

THE Wingmakers' new signing Steve Jones put pen to paper at the Hollingsworth Group Stadium on Wednesday night and says the lure of more European football was a major factor in agreeing to a deal.

"I've played in European football before for Sligo Rovers, so I thought I might as come to Wales, sample the league and have a go at Europe," said the 36-year-old striker, who arrives from AFC Telford United.

"We played Club Brugge in the Europa League and lost on aggregate, but it was a good experience and it's one I would like to repeat, it will be good."

Jones has already plied his trade for 16 clubs in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic, so a move to Wales completes a nap hand of the home countries.

"I don't know anything about the league," Jones admitted. 

"The only team I have heard of is TNS, we (Telford) played them pre-season, I scored twice in a 3-0 win, so I know what they are about, they're a good passing team but they are not unbeatable."

In a varied career, Jones regards his time at Gresty Road, where he scored 39 goals from 158 appearances for Crewe, as the most enjoyable.

"I have seven good years in the Championship with Crewe, played a lot of important games and got moved to Burnley in the Championship as well - most of my career has been spent in the Championship.

"Obviously, playing for northern Ireland as well has helped develop me as a player, but I'd say my best years were spent with Crewe.

"Dario Gradi is the best manager I have played under, he is fantastic, he works with you 24/7 and he helps you improve your game.

"If you come from the non-league scene, which I did as a youngster, he helps you develop into a good player."

Steve won a total of 29 caps for his country, first called-up for a friendly match against Finland in February 2003 to replace the injured Kevin Horlock.

He was an unused substitute in that game but, after impressing in a 'B' international match against Scotland, Jones was called-up to the senior squad again for a friendly against Italy and the Euro 2004 qualifying match against Spain, and recalls those games as the most memorable.

"The highlight of my international career was making my debut in Italy against players like Paolo Maldini, who marked me on that day, Damiano Tommasi and some other great players.

"And in the next game I made my home debut against Spain and Carles Puyol marked me for 90-odd minutes so they are great occasions.

"Those two stick in my memory as well as my first international goal in the Caribbean against St Kitts and Nevis."

Photo: Steve Jones skips past some tight Spanish marking from Puyol in the Euro 2004 qualifier in Belfast.