I cried for days after being released by Middlesbrough, reveals Jones
Northern Ireland new boy Jordan Jones has spoken of his heartbreak after being released by Middlesbrough and how being so close to a World Cup qualifying appearance against Germany leaves him bursting with pride.
The Kilmarnock winger, who qualifies for Northern Ireland through his father, was devastated when Boro let him go 18 months ago, but while his passion for the game took a hammering, he now views his story as an inspiration to other young players to spring off the ropes and fight on.
The 22-year-old had previously turned down the chance to play for the Northern Ireland under-21 side, but now he desperately wants to be part of Michael O'Neill's fairytale international story, and yesterday at the team's base at the Culloden Hotel he gave an honest account of how his career was derailed but now back on track.
"I got released about 18 months ago," he recalled. "I was at Middlesbrough for 14 years and then in a 10 minute meeting I got released.
"Obviously I was heartbroken at the time, but you get to learn that's the way football is and no one feels sorry for you in this game. You either bounce back or you go with everyone else. Like I say, I'll always be grateful to Lee Clarke for the opportunity he gave me at Kilmarnock.
"I knew it was going to come but you can never prepare yourself for that moment.
"I went home and was heartbroken, I cried my eyes out for two days and thought 'this is it, when you need to find out if you have character'. Thankfully, I bounced back from that.
"I think it's a good message for young kids because it's not just me who is going to go through it. To be possibly going to a World Cup 18 months later and being part of this squad is brilliant."
Jones, whose progress is being monitored by Championship clubs Cardiff City, Fulham, Norwich City and Preston, explained why he turned down Northern Ireland as a teenager, a move he now regrets.
"I got put into the Northern Ireland Under-21 squad but I was only 18 at the time and I was doing really well at Middlesbrough," he added.
"I had made my debut and things were going good. There was talk I was going to get called up to an England squad so I held off and it's a decision I came to regret as I got older.
"I was a bit naive. I didn't really speak to anyone about it. I just made a bad decision that I apologise for."