Liverpool’s emergency signing helped resolve the crisis and left after a ‘dream’ month
As a player nears his 37th birthday, he would be forgiven for thinking his chance to play for his childhood club would never present itself.
But against all odds, on January 9, 2004, Paul Jones received the call he had spent his entire career dreaming of receiving.
He was 36 years and eight months old, had spent much of his career in the lower leagues until manager Dave Jones brought his namesake with him when he was appointed Southampton manager.
This gave the Welshman the platform from which he made his international debut and rose to number 1 in his country.
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But by January 2004, he had fallen out of favor on the South Coast and was desperate for any move that might help him extend his career.
Little did he know it wouldn’t be just any old move – it was the one he had been waiting for and dreaming about since he was a kid and growing up near Wrexham.
Liverpool came to call and loaned the Saints cap for the rest of the month.
“It didn’t take long for me to decide I wanted to come here,” Jones said upon the move.
“This move is a dream come true. The deal is only for a month but from my point of view it’s a month at one of the biggest clubs in Europe, if not the world.
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“It was too good an opportunity for me to say no and I know I would have regretted it for the rest of my life if I hadn’t come here.”
He added: “I have been a Liverpool fan my whole life so being here is really a dream for me. I grew up in the Shrewsbury area with a lot of other Liverpool fans and we watched the games at television or listening to the radio. “
Rather than being a glamorous new signature, it was a transfer born out of necessity.
Chris Kirkland had broken his finger and Jerzy Dudek injured his groin in a win over Chelsea, forcing third choice Patrice Luzi to make his surprise debut at Stamford Bridge.
Manager Gerard Houllier didn’t seem to want this to be his only choice between the sticks as he quickly identified Jones as an emergency loan signing until the Pole in goal recovered.
Jones kept his clean sheet on his debut against Aston Villa, before conceding twice in a loss to Tottenham.
And that was it. Dudek returned for Wolves ‘next away game and Jones’ career at Anfield was over as quickly as it miraculously materialized.
To this day, however, the Welshman is proud to have had the chance to play for the home side at Anfield before ending his career with spells at Wolves, QPR and Bognor Regis Town.
“It was just obvious to me. What an opportunity. I was in my 30s then and I will never get the chance again, I’m sure,” he told liverpoolfc.com the last year.
“It was just the opportunity to play for Liverpool – I don’t care if it’s a game.”