Matt Jones

Matt Jones

The former Wales and Leeds United footballer still has the hunger to succeed.

Raise Your Game: Did you have a very rigid training plan and schedule?

Matt Jones: Regimented to say the least, but there's a lot of hard work you have to go through. Even up to the day of my retirement I went through a lot with injuries and through my rehabilitation, and there was not a day where I didn't suffer or go through any pain, regardless if it was through my injuries or out there playing.

You actually suffer when you play 90 minutes of football because you put your body through so much pain. Because you're so determined to succeed, and because there's so much competitiveness in any sport, it actually needs to get to that level. You have to look at nutrition, fitness levels, stamina and endurance. There are so many aspects of the game now to concentrate on and fine tune. To be successful it's very, very tough, but if you've got the right attitude it's very, very possible.

RYG: When you were playing professionally did you ever wake up and not feel like training?

Profile

Name:
Matt Jones

Born:
1/9/1980, Llanelli

Height:
5'11"

Weight:
11st 5lb

Clubs:
Leeds United, Leicester City

International caps:
13 (Wales)

MJ: I don't think there was one day to be honest with you. I got injured quite a bit in my career, little niggles and so on, but I think it's healthy for a football player to have knocks because you actually put things in perspective and you realise how important that sport or game is to you when you miss a day of training. I can remember when I ruptured a ligament in my knee and I was sat in the physio room looking out at the players who were training and I thought how important the game was to me.

RYG: How did you psych yourself up before a match?

MJ: If you're talking motivation, ask yourself if you have something behind you to drive you forward to think 'I really need to play a good game today'. It may be that you played a bad game last week or something's happened in the week or in your life, you have to get yourself in the game.

The desire is always there and you should never lose the hunger to succeed. In every game you must want to get better and better. It's about having the drive, and in any sport the ones who have it are the ones who succeed.

RYG: Did you have a kind of routine pre-match?

MJ: Many players have a lot of superstitions. For me it was a number of funny ones, whether it's the left sock on before the right one, or the tie-ups on the ankle before the tie-ups on the knee. I had to put my socks on before my shorts, although I looked very silly, and kept my shirt off until the last minute.

There are so many superstitions throughout sport. I had to have exactly the same breakfast, exactly the same pre-match meal. The preparation before the game, the things I was thinking were generally the same as well. You do this until something goes wrong and then you start questioning it [the superstition].

RYG: What's the best advice you've ever been given by a manager or coach?

MJ: I think you try to take on board advice anyone can give you, but for me the key was just to try your best. I think if you work to the best of your own ability, you will be successful; you will conquer and achieve your dreams.

Be determined, have that desire. Do not rely too much or worry too much about being gifted with talent or skill because there are many people who are born without it. But all you need is the right attitude and to have the determination to be successful to the best of your ability.

RYG: What's the difference between a good player and a great player?

Matt Jones playing for Leicester CityMJ: I think the difference between a good player and a great player is whether they're happy with their achievements, whether they question themselves every night after training and ask after every game 'Have I done enough?' Although they probably have and in other people's eyes they have, they still criticise their own performance and they're never happy with it.

RYG: Can you describe the moment when you're standing there waiting to run out, what's that like?

MJ: It's unexplainable. When I was younger a lot of people used to say they would give an arm and a leg to be where I was. Now, coming out of football, I understand where people are coming from because I'd now give my arm and leg to be back where I was before.

What goes through your head before you run on is that you just look around you and think all these people are here for me. One of the proudest moments of my career was standing singing the national anthem at the Millennium Stadium - to a full house.

Even now it makes me feel emotional. I could actually see my parents and my family in the crowd in the box in front of me and there were tears running down my face because it was such a proud moment for my family. There were 70,000 people around me feeling it too, but all the pressure was on me to perform and perform well.

RYG: Talking pressure, you've now moved into working in television what's that like?

MJ: I tend to take the same attitude as I did in football. If you've got the desire and you've got a dream, go with it. My dream was to play football, I actually lived my dream and I'll never forget that, but now I've started dreaming again, and I'm dreaming of becoming a successful broadcaster.


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