Blackburn Rovers' teenage centre-back Phil Jones has spoken of his dreams of following in the footsteps of his idol, John Terry.
Jones, who has just turned 18, put the Chelsea and former England captain in the shade on Sunday with an exceptional Premier League debut as Blackburn held the London side to a 1-1 draw.
Blackburn's manager, Sam Allardyce, sees some of Terry's style in his young protégé and has already recommended him for an England youth call-up. As for Jones, whose debut was described as "unbelievably good" by Alan Hansen on "Match of the Day 2", he was delighted with his start to life in the top flight. "It's unreal at the moment, it has not sunk in," Jones said yesterday. "As a footballer you hope to play in games like this. I'm going to keep going and do my own thing – hopefully I have shown the manager I can play at this level."
The match was encapsulated by a late chance for Chelsea when Terry looked favourite to win a back-post header from a corner only for Jones to dive in and clear the ball. "I saw him making the run and I lost him for a second and just had to throw myself at the ball and thankfully it deflected off my head for another corner," added Jones.
"John Terry's definitely someone I idolise – he's a fantastic player and I've always looked up to him, so that made it all the more special."
It was three 50-50 challenges won by Jones in the space of a few seconds that revved up the Ewood Park crowd. Jones said: "I think it needed something like that to spice the game up and get the crowd on your side and if that's what it took then that's what it needed. Obviously you have to be fairly aggressive as a centre-half but you have to be composed as well."
Allardyce, himself, was a former centre-half but said Jones was "much better" than he was. "I was purely destructive, he is a ball-player too," Allardyce said. "We have said before he looks a little like John Terry in his body language and he had a great Premier League debut.
"We did recommend him to the England under-19s and they have taken some notice. We are telling them what a good player he was and he should be playing at that level for England. He has a long way to go to get to the standard of being a regular Premier League player though. He is on the right track by doing what he did."