Phil Jones has confirmed he will leave Manchester United at the end of June as he embarks on a new chapter of his life.
The centre-back has been at United for 12 years, having been signed by Sir Alex Ferguson for £16 million from Blackburn in the summer of 2011.
But despite playing more than 200 games for the club, Jones has featured for United just 13 times since the start of the 2019/20 season.
While he remains just 31 years of age, his career has been ravaged by injuries and a statement from United revealed that the Englishman is “now taking some time before deciding his next move.”
Jones also penned an emotional letter of his own, which he shared on his social media.
“It’s about getting up from setbacks and keeping going. This is a lesson I’ll push into my next challenges, for whatever lies ahead,” the letter read.
Unfortunately for Jones, he was often the subject of ridicule from rival fans and his mistakes were often scrutinised more than the average defender.
Over the years, media outlets have emphasised Jones’ unconventional mannerisms while playing, with the centre-back often caught pulling strange faces during matches.
But looking beyond his peculiar facial expressions, Jones was a fantastic player in his prime and among the best centre-backs in the league at one stage.
With Jones announcing his retirement, footage of his memorable head tackle vs Arsenal in 2015 has gone viral on Twitter again.
In the clip, Jones shows his desire to not be beaten and concede a goal. After slipping while turning back to block Olivier Giroud’s path to goal, Jones falls but still has enough momentum to crawl and hurl himself forward along the floor.
Though Jones does his best to style out his trip, he is desperate not to let his error give Giroud a chance on goal. So much so that, while frantically crawling, he heads the ball against the Frenchman’s feet and out for a goal kick, essentially faceplanting the floor in the process.
We’ll admit that Jones’ unconventional defending is somewhat hilarious, but this should take nothing away from the fact it was actually an outstanding bit of defending that denied Giroud a huge opportunity to score.
Unfortunately, a Tyler Blackett own-goal earned Arsenal a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford, meaning Jones’ heroics were in vain.
Yet, it still serves as a reminder that Jones was a classy defender once upon a time and nobody should tell you otherwise.