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Last Updated: Friday, 12 December, 2003, 12:27 GMT
Vinnie Jones: Hard man with soft centre
Vinnie Jones
Vinnie Jones' temper apparently conceals a caring soul
Former footballer Vinnie Jones has continued to fuel his hard-man reputation with his conviction for an "air rage" assault.

A prosecuting lawyer at the case said Jones was described as "abusive, aggressive and physically violent" - hardly news to his sporting rivals, team-mates and the one-time neighbour he once assaulted.

Vinnie Jones is the kind of person you would like to have on your side.

Once, when he believed team-mates Warren Barton and Dean Holdsworth were not wearing their Wimbledon shirts with pride but rather to keep warm, he pinned them up against the dressing-room wall and delivered some "home truths".

Fines aplenty

Jones's soccer hard man image was bolstered by a video nasty which brought him a record £20,000 fine from the Football Association.

A threat to tear off one of Kenny Dalglish's ears cost him a further fine and his disciplinary record includes the quickest booking (five seconds after kick-off) and a dozen red cards.

Most famously, he was caught on camera committing a handball offence on Paul Gascoigne.

This hard man image prompted film director Guy Ritchie to cast him as the villainous debt-collector Big Chris in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.

Big screen beckons

Life, though, was imitating art. On the day he was supposed to start shooting he had to attend a court hearing for assaulting his neighbour over an argument about a garden fence. He was sentenced to 100 hours of community service.

His first film role led to another performance as a mute heavy known as The Spinx in the gangster movie Gone in 60 Seconds, which was an instant hit in the US.

Suddenly Vinnie Jones found himself living in Hollywood, on the threshold of becoming an international movie star.

In 2001 he won the best actor award at the Empire Film Awards, voted for by Empire magazine readers, for his role in Ritchie's Snatch, beating rivals Sir Michael Caine, Jude Law and Robert Carlyle.

It added to his haul from 1999 when he won best debut at the Evening Standard Film Awards and from the Variety Club of Great Britain.

Humble beginnings

All this is a far cry from his roots on a council estate in Watford where Jones admits that his talent for football probably saved him from a life of petty crime. His parents split up when he was a teenager and he left home at 16.

Jones once said: "All my life I've had an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other."

Vinnie Jones and his wife Tanya
Jones supports a heart hospital where his wife had a transplant

The Vinnie Jones who once sunk his teeth into a journalist's nose is the same Vinnie Jones who returned home in tears when seeing the hopelessness of the old people he delivered blankets to on his community service.

And the same one who is an active fundraiser for a host of children's' charities. He donated his £30,000 fee for Lock, Stock to Harefield Hospital, where his wife Tanya, to whom he is devoted, had a heart transplant more than 15 years ago.

He has a big temper but, it seems, an equally big heart.

Hard work, good luck

His new career, he says, has earned him more respect than his footballing ever did. There is no doubt he has had the luckiest of breaks. But his childhood broken home and early independence instilled in him the belief that "made me want to get on in life and the harder you work the luckier you get".

It has paid off. He has already made the movie Snatch with Brad Pitt from the same stable as Lock, Stock. He has played the lead role in a remake of The Mean Machine, and starred with Halle Berry and John Travolta in Swordfish.

But his feet remain firmly on the ground. He still drinks with the same friends he grew up with and maintains his passion for greyhound racing, while at the same time rubbing shoulders with royalty at charity fund-raising events.

He has appeared in a rum ad, and this rough and ready character was once paid £1.5m for advertising a perfume called Penny Black.

Vinnie Jones admits 'air rage'
12 Dec 03  |  Beds/Bucks/Herts
Vinnie crowned Best Actor
20 Feb 01  |  Entertainment
'Cruel' Vinnie ad cleared
02 Oct 00  |  Entertainment
Première stardom for Vinnie
27 Jul 00  |  Entertainment
Vinnie aims for film-making goal
14 Jul 00  |  Entertainment
Vinnie Jones: Mellow in Hollywood
13 Jun 00  |  Entertainment

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