Football: Hammam tribute to retiring Jones

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THE WIMBLEDON owner, Sam Hammam, yesterday paid tribute to Vinnie Jones after the decision by the game's foremost hard-man to retire. Jones, sent off 13 times in a controversial career both on and off the field, is hoping to become a Hollywood film star.

The 35-year-old midfielder's final club was Queen's Park Rangers, but he made his name as a leading member of the Crazy Gang at Wimbledon. He also played for Leeds United, Sheffield United, Chelsea and Wimbledon again. "I've decided to quit football. I've had enough of this game," said Jones, who starred in the acclaimed film Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels.

Hammam said: "He was no Bryan Robson nor Paul Gascoigne but he had ability. He has been one of the characters of his football generation and people will be talking about Vinnie Jones for a number of years."

The Premier League have insisted that players will not lose out financially when they are on England duty. Premiership clubs are investigating a proposal by Sepp Blatter, the Fifa president, that they should be paid compensation by national associations when players are on international duty. This had led to concern from the Professional Footballers' Association over players losing out as their clubs would want a slice of the commercial spin-offs they pick up with England as compensation.

Prince Charles is to back England's bid to host the 2006 World Cup with a reception for leading football figures at his home of Highgrove. The dinner, to which the key decision-makers have been invited, will take place on FA Cup final weekend.