LEE JONES thought he was in for a right rollocking - not a life-changing move to Liverpool!

The lightening, quick striker was in a good run of form, scoring in every other game after a 2-0 home with over Scarborough 28 years ago.

Boss Brian Flynn had given the players a day off on the Wednesday and Jones was at his girlfriend’s house when he got a phone call from his mum.

“It was half past five and my mum says you’ve got to come home quick, the chairman and the manager are both here,” said Jones.

“You can imagine what I’m thinking as I’m heading home. For the manager and the chairman to be at my house, I must have done something really bad.

“I walk through the door, sit down and the gaffer says: ‘Liverpool want to sign you! The money we get will safeguard the future of the club but if you don’t want to go, you don’t have to’.”

Liverpool were offering £300,000 upfront and then another £300,000 in clauses and Jones, the teenager from Rhosddu would be earning a helluva lot more than the £35 a week wage he agreed to when joining Wrexham less than two years previously.

“It all happened so quickly. I put a shirt and tie on and the gaffer’s driving me to Anfield for a medical and Liverpool were playing at home against West Ham that night.

“I had the medical and then went up into the director’s box to watch the game and Kenny Dalglish, yes, Kenny Dalglish, is sitting next me!

“Here I am sitting next to a Liverpool legend. I really had to pinch myself with what was happening.”

Jones, who had given up football only three years previously claiming he was ‘bored of it’ was now a Liverpool player - although it could have been oh so different if the Manchester United scouting team had been on their toes.

“I found out later that Alex Ferguson was watching me at the time but he was on holiday when Souness had come to watch. He’d told his team to keep an eye on me and was upset when he heard Liverpool had got there in front of him.”

Jones was now wearing the red of Liverpool, not that he has great memories of his first two-minute encounter in the reserves, who were managed by former Anfield captain Phil Thompson.

“Ian Rush was in the side, recovering from injury and he gave me a good welcome before saying: ‘You’re not going to have my shirt, son!’ On I go for the last two minutes and round the keeper but when I should have scored, I hit the post.

“Back in the dressing room, Thompson tears me to shreds, wipes the floor with me, saying I should have scored that, clubs like Liverpool don’t accept missing changes like that and that I might as well pack my bags and head back to Wrexham.

“That was a sign of things to come because I absolutely hated the first six months at Liverpool. I’d gone there as the costliest teenager and I didn’t want to be there.

“I’d finish training and drive straight back to Wrexham and sit in the dressing room at The Racecourse talking to the lads.”

Jones continued doing this for weeks until he was told not to by another Wrexham legend who had made the switch to Liverpool 20 years earlier.

“Joey Jones called me over one day and said ‘Lee, you’re not a Wrexham player anymore. You shouldn’t be here. Go back to Liverpool and go and prove they were right to spend all that money on you’.

“It was great advice from someone who I see as a father figure in football. He gave advice like that to so many players at Wrexham and I love him to bits. The club should have a Joey Jones statue at The Racecourse because he has done so much for that football club.”

Jones did take his namesake’s advice but his Liverpool career was wrecked by injuries that included a broken leg, ruptured Achilles, and a torn thigh, as well as hamstring trouble.

“I made five appearances in four years and the final straw was when Roy Evans was manager and I was on the bench. He told me to warm up. Robbie Fowler got injured but he put Patrik Berger on and then Stan Collymore came off and he went and put Jamie Redknapp on to play upfront!

“I went to see the manager and said I was unhappy and he said you’ll get your chance and we want to offer you a new two-year contract.

“It would have doubled the money I was on but I told him no and that I just wanted to play football.”

Reflecting on his move to Anfield, Jones admits his goal at West Ham United was pivotal to Liverpool signing him.

It’s 25 years ago since Jones, then aged 18, scored the equaliser than earned Wrexham a 2-2 draw in the fourth round of the FA Cup at Division One side West Ham United.

Division Four side Wrexham had famously dumped Arsenal out of the competition in the previous round and Jones, introduced as a second half substitute, raced onto Gareth Owen’s long ball and slotted past Hammers goalkeeper Ludo Mikloško.

West Ham won the replay 1-0 and just a few weeks later Jones joined Liverpool.

He remembers his one instruction from Reds’ boss Flynn on that memorable day at Upton Park.

“With 10-15 minutes to go, the gaffer said ‘go on and get a goal’. It was the only instruction I got,” said Jones.

“It was a great ball from Gareth and I outpaced Tim Breacker, although I was about 20 years younger than him and I was quick back then!

“It was the best feeling I have ever had in football, going on and equalising in a big FA Cup tie. It was key to me getting a move.”

Jones did head back for a loan spell at Wrexham in 1996, scoring eight goals in 20 games but remained on Merseyside, signing for Tranmere Rovers in a £100,000 deal 12 months later.

“The first 12 months at Tranmere were great,” added Jones. “But my agent then tried to sell me behind my back and a move to Bradford was lined up only for me to tear my cartilage.”

A move to Yorkshire did materialise with Jones heading to Barnsley for a two-year stint.

“Harry Bassett was the manager and what a great man. He was brilliant at man management but he went. Nigel Spackman was also there for a short time but I felt it was time to go.”

And, as if by magic, who should call but Joseph Patrick Jones saying Denis Smith was looking for a striker to get Wrexham promoted.

“It was a good team. Andy Morrell and Lee Trundle were first choice,” said Jones, now back for a fourth spell at his hometown club.

He scored all five goals in a 5-0 win over Cambridge but the Reds were relegated that day in 2002 only to bounce back and gain promotion 12 months earlier, Jones scoring the final goal and his last ever Wrexham striker in another 5-0 win over The Abbey Stadium outfit.

Jones’ career has flourished off-the-field since hanging up his boots after doing a mini tour of the League of Wales grounds.

He’s had Academy jobs at old club Tranmere and Glyndwr University, alongside current Reds boss Dean Keates while he’s now part of the scouting and recruitment team at Premier League Burnley.

Not bad for someone who didn’t even want to play football when he was 16.

“I was totally bored with the game,” admitted Jones. “I’d been playing non-stop since I was eight or nine and I didn’t want to play anymore.

“I’d gone to Yale College to do my GCSE re-sits and I was concentrating on those exams.

“The PE teacher, OM Edwards, wanted me to play in a game against Connah’s Quay and I came up with so many excuses.

“I said I had to walk the dog and we didn’t even have a dog.

“I wanted to be a PE teacher myself at the time and Mr Edwards said that if I played in the game, he’d get me through. So I played in the game. We won 2-1 and I scored.

“We had Lex U18s next and he wanted me to play again. It was at Queensway and Cliff Sear was there.

“We won 5-0 and I scored four and after the game Cliff invites me for a trial. I turn up at The Racecourse, there’s about 20 lads in each dressing room. We go out and it’s 11 v 11 and Brian Flynn is there this time.

“We hadn’t been playing long and Cliff says ‘Lee, off you come the manager wants to speak to you’.

“We’re in the director’s box and Brian offers me a 12-month YTS deal - £35 a week and the proviso I must put £5 of it in a pension. It took me less than 30 seconds to say yes.”

Just months later, the starry-eyed 17-year-old is in the starting line-up at home to Manchester United in the European Cup Winners’ Cup.

Debuts, just like Jones’ footballing story, don’t come much better than that!