How ex-Preston North End loanee David Jones had Roy Keane fighting his corner in Man Utd contract talks
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Jones spent the first half of the 2005-06 season on loan at Deepdale as a youngster while with the Red Devils. He left United in 2007 to join Derby County, and later played for Wolves, Wigan, Burnley, Sheffield Wednesday and Oldham.
Jones, now 35, was on the brink of joining Liverpool from Wrexham as an 11-year-old before the Red Devils swooped in at the last minute.
He would work his way through the ranks, captaining the club to FA Youth Cup glory in 2003 before getting his chance with the first team.
The England Under-21s international was without an agent as a teenager, and had been mulling over the terms of his first professional contract when Keane and Gary Neville stepped in.
“I wouldn’t say we were close, but there were a few players who I’d say were mentors,” said Jones. “Roy Keane negotiated a contract for me when I was 18 or 19 on my behalf.
“He negotiated that with the manager and with Gary Neville because I didn’t have an agent at the time. I had been training with the first team and they’d asked me what my contract situation was.
“I told them that I’d been offered something and they said they’d have a look at it for me. It all stemmed from there.
“At first it was Gary and then he got Roy in and we had a discussion about it in the players’ lounge.”
It’s safe to say, with Keane in tow, that negotiations went well and Jones signed on the dotted line.
He added: “They then went to speak to the manager about it just to make sure it was fair for where I was in my career. I didn’t want an agent so I relied on the senior players to give me a helping hand, which they did. I was very grateful for that.
“I sat down with Roy a number of times on pre-season tours to have a good chat with him because he was always willing to help and give advice. He was always somebody that I looked up to and he was my ‘go to’ player to speak to. Others like Rio Ferdinand would also offer me advice.
“I’d have good chats with him and he was another mentor. It was a good relationship for a young player to have.”