Cold Call: Jack O'Sullivan Rings Vinnie Jones

PHONING RATHER than meeting Vinnie Jones seems smart. After all, he once bit a reporter's nose when the conversation got too hot. And he could be the next Clint Eastwood, after his lifelike performance as a gangland debt-collector in the new film Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. So Vinnie's agent agrees a time when football's hard man will ring.

I wait and wait. Nothing. I stare at the menacing photo on the cover of his new autobiography, that face like a clenched fist, ready to smack me if I get out of order. I now know how Paul Gascoigne felt when Vinnie famously grabbed him by the balls during a match and squeezed.

"We'll try again tomorrow," sympathised his agent hours later. Next day, I reached that familiar gruff voice on a dodgy mobile line. "Vinnie," I shout, relieved that none of his 14 shotguns are nearby. "I wonder if you call yourself a New Man?"

Silence. "I dunno know what you mean?" I explain about being touchy-feely and washing up. "If you have to do it, I suppose you have to do it," he says. "But I've had enough problems looking after myself. I don't think I could look after anyone else.

"A real man," continues Vinnie, warming to the subject, "can run with the boys, fight with them and have a good time. But if a woman walks in, he snaps out of it. He can still open a door for her, carry her bags. He's a gentleman."

So now that he is a film star, are there any "real men" that he would like to play? "William Wallace in Braveheart." A painful end, I say. "How about John Gotti, the Mafia boss, and Richard Gere in An Officer and A Gentleman? "I'd love to do them."

Football, I say, seems part of his being a man. Does he support women playing? "It's good for them," he declares enthusiastically. "My daughter, Kaley, plays brilliantly. We have a small pitch in our garden. I've got a thing in life - you should do what you want, give two fingers to everyone and tell them to get stuffed." Suddenly, the phone goes dead. I redial.

Vinnie is still there, ready for more. So what does he think of today's players, like Alan Shearer and Michael Owen, who are so smoothly groomed? "Corn-fed," shouts Vinnie. "Like chickens. They're bred just to be footballers. There won't be any great characters soon. When was the last time a non- league player like me came off the building site and played against Man United?"

I want to tell Vinnie my theory, having read his autobiography. He isn't really aggressive, just defensive because he feels threatened. So much so that his book details how he once contemplated suicide. Vinnie seems desperately loyal to friends, but gets into bother with outsiders. Does he agree?

" I'm very tribal," he says. "I like to have my mates around me. But I've got a temper. My first reaction is aggression if someone threatens me. Everything I've ever done I have had to fight and scrap for." What had made him feel so insecure? "Probably leaving home, my parents splitting up. I was only 13, just coming into being a man, then all that happened. It's still a big part of my life."

His twenties sounded stressful, I say. Does he feel more relaxed now? "Yeah. I'm 33. I feel more content," he says. "I've fought my way up to where people can't affect me anymore. It's no longer a win or die situation for me. In the last 18 months I've begun to have that wanted feeling."

Vinnie is beginning to sound touchy-feely. But our chat is over. "OK that's it. I've got a plane to catch," he shouts. The phone goes dead. This time, I don't redial.

Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

TV
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
film
Arts and Entertainment
The audience aimed thousands of Apple’s product units at Taylor Swift throughout the show
musicReview: On stage her manner is natural, her command of space masterful
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Channel 4 is reviving its Chris Evans-hosted Nineties hit TFI Friday

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Harrison Ford plays Indiana Jones in The Last Crusade (1989)

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
A Glastonbury reveller hides under an umbrella at the festival last year

Glastonbury
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Miles Morales is to replace Peter Parker as the new Spider-Man

comics
Arts and Entertainment
The sequel to 1993's Jurassic Park, Jurassic World, has stormed into the global record books to score the highest worldwide opening weekend in history.

film
Arts and Entertainment
Odi (Will Tudor)
tvReview: Humans, episode 2
Arts and Entertainment
Can't cope with a Port-A-loo? We've got the solution for you

FestivalsFive ways to avoid the portable toilets

Arts and Entertainment
Some zookeepers have been braver than others in the #jurassiczoo trend

Jurassic WorldThe results are completely brilliant

Arts and Entertainment
An original Miffy illustration
art
Arts and Entertainment
Man of mystery: Ian McKellen as an ageing Sherlock Holmes
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Kitchen set: Yvette Fielding, Patricia Potter, Chesney Hawkes, Sarah Harding and Sheree Murphy
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Evans has been confirmed as the new host of Top Gear
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Top of the class: Iggy Azalea and the catchy ‘Fancy’
music
Arts and Entertainment
Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters performs at Suncorp Stadium on February 24, 2015 in Brisbane, Australia.

music
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Evans had initially distanced himself from the possibility of taking the job

TV
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
British author Matt Haig

books
Arts and Entertainment
Homeland star Damian Lewis is to play a British Secret Service agent in Susanna White's film adaptation of John le Carre's Our Kind of Traitor

Film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

    How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

    Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
    Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

    One day to find €1.6bn

    Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
    New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

    'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

    Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
    Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

    Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

    The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
    Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

    Historians map out untold LGBT histories

    Public are being asked to help improve the map
    Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

    Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

    This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
    Paris Fashion Week

    Paris Fashion Week

    Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
    A year of the caliphate:

    Isis, a year of the caliphate

    Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
    Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

    Marks and Spencer

    Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
    'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

    'We haven't invaded France'

    Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
    Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

    Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

    The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
    7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

    Remembering 7/7 ten years on

    Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
    Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

    They’re here to help

    We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
    Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

    Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

    'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
    What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

    What exactly does 'one' mean?

    Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue