Diving has been happening for 20 years… it is up to captains and managers to stamp it out, says hardman Vinnie Jones
13:44 GMT, 11 December 2012
Vinnie Jones is explaining how he keeps up to date with events in the Barclays Premier League when the tone of his voice deepens considerably.
The thorny issue of diving has arisen in our conversation and Jones makes no attempt to conceal his disgust. Jones may now live in Hollywood and have a portfolio of 60 movies but, to a certain generation, he was the quintessential football hard man.
As one of the founder members of Wimbledon’s ‘Crazy Gang’, Jones took no prisoners and relished trying to take the big clubs down a peg or two. He was always rough and tough but never did this midfield enforcer rely on the dark arts of trying to hoodwink referees.
No contact: Santi Cazorla wins a penalty for Arsenal despite there being debate as to whether Steven Reid made contact
Going down: Cazorla goes over close to Reid and wins a penalty
So when he is asked for his views about the theatrical antics that have become commonplace each weekend – the latest being Arsenal midfielder Santi Cazorla’s risible tumble against West Brom – Jones, typically, does not hold back.
'I was filming in New York last week for an episode of Elementary and I was in my trailer watching Celtic in the Champions League, in between scenes,’ said Jones, who also played for Chelsea, Sheffield United, Queens Park Rangers and Leeds before ending up in Tinsel Town.
'Anyway this geezer from Spartak Moscow gets tackled but goes down as if he had been shot in the calf with a 12 bore shotgun. He was only doing it to get the Celtic lad booked. He goes off the field after a bit of treatment then he’s running around with no problem.
Theatrical: Luis Suarez goes down while under pressure from Vincent Kompany
Taking a tumble: Suarez goes down against Arsenal
FIVE WHO WOULDN’T GO DOWN
‘There were so many good lads playing in my day you were always guaranteed a battle. If I had to pick the hardest out I’d go for Bryan Robson, Steve McMahon, Terry Hurlock, Roy Keane and Carlton Palmer. Why Carlton He was so big, he’d run away from you and you’d never catch him!’
'Well, in my view, the referee should have booked him when he got up. All this is starting to creep up on clubs. You hear this talk of Gareth Bale but he’s not doing anything that David Ginola wasn’t doing. He was 6ft 4ins and you’d see him rolling all over the place.
'It’s terrible. It’s out and out cheating. This debate keeps rearing its ugly head every three or four years but nothing seems to happen.
'Everyone says it is down to the referees to sort it out but that isn’t fair. Referees are under such pressure now. Why are they getting stick from managers Managers and captains should be setting the example and other players should follow their lead to stamp it out.
'I’ll tell you a story: when I was at Wimbledon, one of our players – who shall remain nameless – went down with a dive in the area. I walked over, picked him up by his hair on the back of his neck and told him “we don’t do that here, son. Got it” I promise you he never did it again.’
No contact: Gareth Bale has been accused of being a serial diver
Unbelievable: Bale has been booked for simulation four times this season
Jones is in full flow now. From recounting how Wimbledon defied the odds in 1988 to beat Liverpool in the FA Cup final to speaking of his pride that Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch – his first acting roles – remains in the top five British movies of all time, the chat is never dull.
His is a quite remarkable story – the one time hod-carrier who joined the a Hollywood A-list – but even though his career has changed dramatically, his passion for football burns as intensely as it did when he was going toe-to-toe with the best around.
Fittingly, Jones has just become an ambassador for Warrior Football – the manufactures of Liverpool’s kit – and he describes England captain Steven Gerrard as befitting the image of the brand; a player who would never give up.
No nonsense: Vinnie Jones was known as a tough tackling midfielder
Unfortunately, though, he feels there are too few characters in the modern game.
'I said this would happen 20 years ago,’ he continues. ‘All this diving around isn’t new. I said the Premier League would get flooded with foreign players but people at the time said we needed them. I always felt it would be to the detriment of the national team.
'I feel sorry for Roy Hodgson. Harry Houdini couldn’t get England to win a tournament now. But I still watch the Premier League religiously. We probably see more games in America live than you do at home. We just need to see more of these honest players going in blood and thunder.’
Screen stars: Vinnie Jones and Everton midfielder Marouane Fellaini (below) star in the new Warrior Sport advert
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Vinnie Jones is an Ambassador for Warrior Football