Cobi Jones is considered a legend of US Soccer and MLS. Having played in Europe, South America and for his beloved LA Galaxy, Jones truly is a great of the US game. The 4th of June sees him inducted into the Hall of Fame alongside former team mate Eddie Pope, as well as Earnie Stewart, Bruce Murray and former U.S. and MLS Head Coach Bob Gansler.
I was lucky enough to catch up with Cobi and discuss everything from his career to the current state of his game room.
Here is that interview:
You’ve recently taken up a position with New York Cosmos how did that move come about?
When Terry Byrne (formerly David Beckham’s manager and currently Vice Chairman of The New York Cosmos) came to LA with David, we formed a great relationship over the 2 year span that he was involved with the LA Galaxy and we formed a relationship that inolved a lot of trust. When he spoke to me about the opportunity to join The New York Cosmos as Associate Director of Soccer and International Ambassador, I knew that it was the right thing to do and the right way to go to further my progress and career in the soccer world.
You were briefly interim manager with Galaxy and said you enjoyed it. Is becoming head coach somewhere a goal for you?
Yes, I think in the future, depending on how things progress, that being a head coach is something I would highly consider for myself in the future.
The first part of your professional career was at Coventry City. What was it like as a young guy moving to a new country?
It was a great experience and very different. Imagine being a young kid going straight from Los Angeles to Coventry City.
You were in your mid twenties. Did it make it easier or harder than had you moved say in your teens?
I think it would have been easier in my teenage years, as you’re naturally less rigid with things in life when you’re younger.
After leaving Coventry you made the rather surprising move to Vasco De Gama. What made you decide Brazil was a good next step for you?
When I was in England, I gained a workman-like view of the sport and learned a lot. When I moved to Brazil, it was all about enjoying the game the Brazilian way, which fit better with my personality at that particular time in my career.
You only stayed in Brazil for one year. Looking back would you have done anything differently?
No, I did it exactly the way that I planned. I went to Brazil during the off period between the World Cup and the league starting and my plan was always to come back to help kick off the league.
Now having grown up in California was it nice to represent LA Galaxy in MLS?
It was great to represent the LA Galaxy in my own backyard, which also gave my friends and family a chance to see me play on a regular basis.
You also made over one hundred appearances for your country. Does that make you proud to think you have such a stake in US Soccer history?
I’m extremely proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish for this country in soccer and I hope U.S. Soccer continues to use me in the future, in all of their endeavors to further the sport in the U.S. and continue to establish its footprint worldwide.
Do you think its harder for modern players to establish themselves internationally and earn 100+ caps?
I think it’s more difficult if you are playing internationally. There isn’t as much leeway with the clubs as there was back then to allow players to play for their national team
One player who has broke that barrier is Landon Donovan. Just how does he rate in terms of US Soccer?
I think Landon is a great player who represents the country well. He will continue to do some amazing things and has a long career ahead of him. He has done a lot for himself, his club and his country.
You also spent time with him in close quarters at LA. What’s he like as a person?
Landon has a strong personality and doesn’t let anything stop him – which is why he’s done amazing. He definitely knows what he wants.
Looking back at your career you won a number of trophies. Is there one that sticks out as a personal favorite?
For me, it is the winning our first MLS Cup. We had been there 3 times before, and there was a lot of disappointment and pressure mounted to win it. It was an incredible moment for me – especially since I was captain.
You went to three World Cups in ’94, ’98, and ’02. Which was your favorite and why?
2002 was my favorite World Cup (the last one I played). It’s my favorite because I will never forget the experience of beating Mexico 2-0. It was great to meet up wth our great rival, on the world’s biggest stage, and come out victorious.
More recently you were inducted into the National Soccer Hall Of Fame. Where does that rank in terms of career highlights?
Not sure where this will rank – but I do know this is something extremely special for me because soccer is such a big part of my life and other things had to sit back because of it. But regardless, now I have my son, who is able to experience this stage of my soccer life.
And finally, do you still have that video game room, and have any former team-mates come over and beat your high scores?
My video game room has now turned into a nursery and my gaming time has been drastically cut down!
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