Crown Jewels

The former midfielders sat down with talkSPORT for a special programme called Re:United which will be aired on Sunday at 8pm

I thought when I see him, I just want to kill him.

That’s what Vinnie Jones told talkSPORT about the day he met Newcastle United’s midfield prodigy, Paul Gascoigne, on 6 February, 1998 at Wimbeldon’s Plough Lane.

Earmarked as the future of English football, the 20-year-old kid, who became affectionately known as ‘Gazza’ soon had everyone lavishing him with praise as his style at the heart of Willie McFaul’s side was earning him rave reviews.

His talent was so unique Sir Alex Ferguson once said his one regret in football was not signing this supremely talented kid at Manchester United.

But he hadn’t only caught the attention of the country’s big clubs. Keen to put this graceful, quick-witted player in his place was Jones, the First Division’s resident hard man.

Vinnie Jones was the polar opposite to Paul Gascoigne as a player

Vinnie Jones was the polar opposite to Paul Gascoigne as a player

Wimbledon boss Bobby Gould knew all about Newcastle’s whizz-kid and together with coach Don Howe hatched a plan to nullify his threat. Though whether that involved copping a feel of Gazza’s meat and two veg is unknown.

“I got to the game everything is fine, was having the craic with the lads, and it is all going off out on the pitch,” Jones told Re:United, a special talkSPORT programme which will be aired at 8pm on Sunday.

“Gazza has gone out there early and there was a frenzy. I used to go out late, I didn’t want a great big warm up. Our guys went out and are going ‘there are girls running on with bouquets of flowers and roses and chocolates’ and something snapped in me. I thought: ‘I could be the laughing stock of this game. What if he scores four goals, what if he runs riot?’

“Something snapped in me. So I never went out. I stretched in the dressing room and I am building up and building up and I thought ‘when I see him, I’m going to kill him’.”

Gascoigne, who began his career at Newcastle, is considered to be one of the finest players of his generation

Gascoigne, who began his career at Newcastle, is considered to be one of the finest players of his generation

It was clear Gazza wasn’t going to be able to play any actual football that day. In fact, he wanted to stay in the changing room. His crown jewels were safe in there.

“I always remember when they kicked off he came straight up to us,” he told talkSPORT. “I went ‘you’ve got the ball’ and he said ‘I ain’t playing football today and neither are you’.”

They didn’t know it then, but the pair were about to unwittingly pose for a photograph that is now part of footy folklore as Gazza’s wit forced an angry Jones to do what any sane person would – he reached down, squeezed and didn’t let go.

Discussing the incident together on talkSPORT, Jones said: “It was a free kick or something and I didn’t want you to come short and get the ball.

“We were fighting to get in and he started jostling as well and you said something about ‘how much are they paying you for this, are you getting £100 for this today?’ That is when I reached down.

“I grabbed it and it was just spot on! There weren’t no fiddling about. He had a bit of luncheon on him the boy at 17 to be fair to him! It was straight on the button. I just grabbed it and didn’t let go.”

To hear Vinnie Jones and Gazza discuss one of football’s most famous images, listen to talkSPORT on Sunday 23 September at 8pm here.

talkSPORT

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