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For nine wonderful months, Vinnie Jones played his part as Howard Wilkinson's Leeds United negotiated its way through unbelievable expectation to lift the Second Division title and end eight years of wilderness from English footballs top flight.

After swapping Hillsborough for Elland Road in October 1988, Wilkinson had enough time during that season to weigh up the players at his disposal and plot a strategy and a route away from the murky waters of the second tier.

The signings of Gordon Strachan and Chris Fairclough had raised eyebrows in March 1989 but it's fair to say they did not receive the same amount of attention that one of the "Magnificent Seven" in-comings did during the following summer.

Vincent Peter Jones, a former hod carrier, made his debut for Wimbledon in the top flight away at Nottingham Forest in November 1986. A week later, on his first start at Plough Lane, he bagged a 42nd minute winner - the only goal of the game - to send Manchester United home empty handed.

His agricultural challenge on Steve McMahon, in the very early moments of the FA Cup Final, completeky knocked the Liverpool 'hard man' off his stride as (in the words of John Motson), the Crazy Gang beat the Culture Club

There was also the famous incident with Paul Gascoigne. Jones took the headlines on a regular basis and not always for the right reasons. However, the thug image that had been portrayed disappeared over the season (and one game) that Vinnie was at Elland Road. Eyebrows were raised when Wilko signed him but the £650,000 signing stood up, was counted, and Elland Road adored him.

The rogue traders on Lowfields Road made a killing with Vinnie Jones slogans on poor quality tee-shirts. Barbers all over Leeds, and beyond, had to learn the art of shaving V's into the back of heads and the man with the hot food stall in front of the old souvenir shop on Elland Road made a few extra quid with his "Vinnie burger" initiative.

Unfortunately for Jones, he was not fit to make his debut on the opening day but he made an impact on his debut the following Wednesday at home to Middlesbrough. He came off the bench to replace Ian Baird, with just three minutes remaining. Elland Road gave him a rousing welcome and in the dying embers of the game, a through ball from the debutant, which was going nowhere, was turned back to his goalkeeper by Gary Parkinson. A cruel bounce deceived Kevin Poole and the ball nestled in the back of the net in front of the South Stand to give the Whites a 2-1 win and the campaign was up and running.

After making his first start at Stoke City on September 2, Vinnie wore the number four shirt at Elland Road for the first time a week later. After just 12 minutes, Strachan's corner was flicked on by Baird and Jones planted a diving header, from inside the six yard box, past Craig Forrest to open the scoring.

The metal fences in front of the South Stand took his full weight as the jubilant midfielder climbed them to smoke an imaginary cigar before his adoring public.

After a defeat and three draws in the opening five games, Wilkinson's men started to go through the gears and on October 7 gave full indication that they were the real deal with an impressive performance and victory at Upton Park, courtesy of a beautiful controlled finish by Jones.

Every home game, Vinnie would go over to the disabled supporters congregated at the front of the West Stand and shake their hands, ruffle their hair and have a chat. It defied his image, as did his performances on the turf.

Strachan was running the show home and away. Jones was his well-mannered body guard and the two of them, across the midfield, developed an understanding that few, other than Wilkinson, could have envisaged.

Not once did Vinnie stare at a red card whilst at Elland Road. You could argue that the nearest he probably came was when he slid in and brought down the little mascot in front of a packed Gelderd End, in the warm up before the home game against Wolverhampton Wanderers. Elland Road erupted with laughter - Jones could do no wrong.

He towed the line, kept his control and impressed everybody. He scored with a great finish against Brighton and Hove Albion, an unbelievable volley against Hull City and another excellent strike against Portsmouth - all at Elland Road. The five goals he scored and his all round play belittled the image he arrived from South London with.

Despite a stutter towards the end of the season, Leeds defeated Leicester City in the final home game and with Newcastle drawing at home to West Ham, the Whites were up. Vinnie, from the stands, had given the signal. The supporters hung on his every word and Elland Road went wild. 

Hang on, "Is that confirmed?", bellowed John Helm on the commentary and unfortunately, it wasn't confirmed. The Geordies had scored late on and won the game to take the promotion battle to the final weekend.

We all know how the final chapter of a glorious season played out on the South Coast at Bournemouth. Eight long years in the Second Division were over. Jones had helped galvanise the club and its supporters and had helped secure a seat at footballs top table. 

After featuring away at Luton Town in the top flight, Jones was sold to Sheffield United. The midfielder, who went on to play for Wales, was box office from the moment he arrived to the day he departed. His time at Leeds was all too brief but those who watched Vinnie Jones power his way through the Second Division and help take us up, will never forget his contribution. 

He strutted his stuff, week in week out in a shirt displaying the name of a men's clothes store. He certainly was (and is) a TOP MAN.

Thanks for the memories Vinnie.