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Vinnie Jones: violence as a successful brand.

The ex footballer has lived all is life with the image of the "hard man", from football to movies.

Vinnie Jones: violence as a successful brand. The ex footballer has lived all is life with the image of the hard man, from football to movies.

One of the most iconic (and fun) photos in the football world is without a shadow of doubt this:

We can immediately recognize the protagonist: a young Paul Gascoigne when he was still wearing the Newcastle United shirt. The males also recognize the expression on his face very well. It is one of the many nuances of the grimace in which each of us twists our faces when the 'family jewels' are touched with very little kindness. The real protagonist of this photo is therefore the man with the double cut responsible for the astonished expression of the Magpie: Mr. Vincent Peter "Vinnie" Jones.

It is 1988 when the photo is taken, Vinnie Jones plays in Wimbledon, which is a bit 'the club of his life.

That year the London team won the only important trophy of its glorious history, the English cup won in the final against Liverpool, thanks to that crazy team nicknamed Crazy Gang.


Vinnie Jones was born in Watford in 1965, a hard and crude city, one of those English city centers that found their reason to exist only during the second industrial revolution, and which shaped the identity of the city and its inhabitants on this feature, with all that comes from it. The father was a gamekeeper.

He plays football and at the same time does the laborer, until he makes the big jump (geographical and professional) and for a season he even moves to Sweden, Holmsmund. With the Swedes he won the third division championship, he stands out and is bought by Wimbledon. Thus began a career as a footballer went on until the threshold of the new millennium, always within the realm of his majesty (with important passages even fleeting like that at Leeds and Chelsea).

All of Vinnie Jones's career was based on violence. If you enter your name on YouTube, the first three videos to appear are compilations with example names: "fouls and fights compilation"; "Vinnie Jones PSYCHO"; "Vinnie Jones 'The Killer': the most violent player in history?".


Jones was a midfielder with no talent with the exception of an arsenal of intimidating weapons and blows of swallowing up a massive physique, a criminal face and total unconsciousness. A living example of the latter is Gary Stevens, at the time defender of Brighton, who never recovered from a violent foul by Jones, ending up withdrawing from football played only thirty years.

The favorite move by the Welsh national was certainly the kamikaze slide, almost flying, with which he hit the players that easily overcame him in speed. A style of play, if you can define it, that ended up making Jones one of the most feared players in the Premier League, a championship that in the eighties was still covered with a patina of amateurism and little care for professional aspects , such as the care of the athlete's body or the technical-tactical aspect of the game; he’s the second most expelled player in the history of the English major (second only to Keane: 13 against 12) but on the other hand holds the record for the fastest ejection of all, three seconds after the kick-off. Gazza outlines the feelings that were felt sharing the field with Vinnie Jones: "For me it was the toughest opponent of all time, without a doubt, the only player that made me worry when I played against it and that I would have wanted in my team, to protect myself ". The image and fame of hard man to the limits of the madness that has been earned on the field is also witnessed by observing the reactions of the players to his killer interventions: almost no one complains or reacts. Even someone like Cantona. After being knocked down by a flying kick, Man Uited's number seven stands up, evidently ready for a physical confrontation with the author of the foul, but then immobilized and turned around when he realizes the identity of his marker. A visual fragment that is worth a thousand words in describing the type of psychological power that a player like Jones exercised on his opponents, in an age when, among other things, the physical contact was decidedly more important - already in itself paramount in England; there are fouls, within the compilations, which today would be from direct red but that at the time were not taken into account even for the yellow card.


Fortunately, today such football players do not remain almost tracked, the few remotely comparable are generally stigmatized by everyone - apart from some exalted convinced that these are the real men who are good for contemporary football. The only one that can be compared to him is that Joey Barton "stupid and a criminal" (quoted by Massimo Marianella), another who has based a whole career on intimidation and violence - the two also share different troubles with the law .

 There is a big difference between two apparently overlapping personalities.Vinnie Jones has in fact had the intelligence and the ability to make their style of play something "romantic", a feature intrinsic to his character so that we consider it as something nice, almost to be admired. For one thing, in England, a VHS from the programmatic name of "Vinnie Jones Soccer's Hard Men", a compilation of the most violent players in the story presented and commented by Jones himself, has gone down in history. The mythification of such characters is now very rare. The aesthetic rules have changed: the jail faces have been replaced by the eternal children with clean faces and the bodies covered by tattoos, decidedly more attractive to a very young audience than the "pub" one of the eighties; the games are perhaps less intense as regards the contrasts of the game, but paradoxically the physique is more important today than ever, it is often the prerogative to play at the highest levels (and above all to win); but bodies must be sculpted precisely to avoid the contrasts of a certain type, rather than to look for them. It is not only worth having that sacred fire inside like a Gattuso of the golden age. If you do not have a great talent, you have to be a real athlete to succeed and win at very high levels.

This openly embracing, indeed going very proud of it, its hard-core image has made Vinnie Jones an idol for many - in recent times the retromania applied to football has contributed greatly. The meeting with a certain Guy Ritchie, when by now his career as a football player had come to an end, completely cemented the whole thing.




The British director made his feature directorial debut in 1998 with "Lock & Stock "; with him begin acting as actors Jason Statham and just Vinnie Jones, in the role of a terrifying and violent debt collector. Then in 2000 Snatch consecrates Ritchie and Jones himself, who instead plays Tony, a criminal specialized in manhunting. These two films transform and justify the image of Jones, now on the  artistic level and not just football. His presence on the screen in these roles actually works great: his face has as main characteristic those petrifying blue eyes, set in the middle of thick black eyebrows and high cheekbones, like a picture with the frame. Jones is a species of Cillian Murphy (Thomas Shelby in Peaky Blinders) with a criminal face instead of a model.


 His acting career continues to this day, including films and TV series, but lately he has climbed to the headlines more for his hyper-conservative political positions. Jones, however, was very good at capitalizing that image built on the field, making it become globally the aesthetic flag of a certain type of made in Britain, that of This Is England to be clear; the dirty and violent streets, the greyness of the cities and the incredible characters that populate them, of the small and average crime and of political extremism.