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Mar 21, 2013

Jones opens up on Schalke days

Frankfurt-born United States international Jermaine Jones, deemed one of the last "bad boys" of the Bundesliga, has explained the reasons for his exile from Schalke and his fall-out with the media following a challenge on Germany international Marco Reus.

Jones, 31, has become one of leading figures at Schalke since returning from a six-month loan at Blackburn Rovers in the second half of the 2011-12 season. Before the spell in England he had fallen out of favour with then-Schalke boss Felix Magath. Speaking to 11 Freunde, Jones lashed out at Magath, who had demoted him to the reserves.

"I might have been frustrated at the time," he explained. "But today I am playing in the Champions League with Schalke and Magath is gone. The communication [with Magath] was a catastrophe. Most of the time he did not talk at all and when he talked he would do so only with Raul."

Despite several offers from Premier League clubs last summer, Jones returned to Schalke. "I had a few offers from Premier League clubs, but also three years left on my Schalke contract," he said. "Magath was gone, Schalke had qualified for Europe, so my wife and I decided to return."

He played in Schalke's first game of the 2011-12 campaign, but was dropped by then Schalke boss Ralf Rangnick after partying on the night of the match.

He said: "I still lived at a hotel next to the club office and after one game celebrated with some fans and friends. Rangnick got wind of it and I was benched."

Things improved for Jones but a nasty foul on Germany international Reus, who at that time still played for Borussia Monchengladbach, led to an eight-week suspension, when Jones was a key member in Schalke's bid to qualify for Champions League.

"When I sat in the locker room after the game, I knew something was coming," he revealed. "But not the extent of it."

Jones had apologised to both the media and the public after calls for him to be banned for several months, but the tabloid press dragged out stories about Jones' home life.

"You can criticise me as a footballer, but one paper claimed what happened was directly connected with my upbringing," he said. "That's when I said: 'That is not right'."

Jones was raised in Bonames, a deprived area in Frankfurt. "Of course, we tried stuff, but it was never like we were drug addicts," he said of his younger days. "I never thought it was bad growing up there, but I had made up my mind early on that I wanted to live somewhere else one day."

Jones has an "only God can judge me" tattoo on his left arm, of which he said: "That's from my Frankurt days, it means a lot to me. I won't bend - I make my own decisions. God is the only one judging me. There is certainly justice that comes from above. In life everything comes back to you - positive or negative."

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