Jodi Jones – King Of Assists

The 23/24 Sky Bet League Two campaign, one that may not live too long in the memories of many at Meadow Lane, but one that will undoubtedly remain in the memory of record-breaking Jodi Jones.

From signing on a two-year permanent deal at the end of the 22/23 season following promotion with the club from the National League to becoming the single most impressive footballer in the fourth-tier, deservingly swooping the Player of The Season award from the EFL along with the fans’ and players’ Player of the Season awards at Meadow Lane.

Sean McConville was the previous assist record-holder, that being until Jones decided to obliterate that statistic by January of 2024, and surpassing the total by seven to conclude the campaign with 24 assists.

Prior to all the heights he has reached so far in the infamous black and white stripes, football has not always been too kind to 26-year-old. His poor luck with injuries saw him miss near 900 days of professional football, sustaining a serious injury several times and one in which some never experience once.

However, the winger turned wing-back completed a full season free of injury, and it meant more than imaginable to him:

“It felt absolutely amazing if I am being honest. It was the main target I set myself at the start of the season, to stay fit and play as many games as possible. So, as it was getting closer, I was getting more and more excited as it is a question that everybody has asked and I was definitely doubted, whether or not I could complete a full season.

“I set myself loads of targets at the start of the season, with goals and assists but the staying fit target was the most important. Like I have said before in previous things, if you do not play well that is in your hands. But, getting injured like I did was completely out of my hands, and it was very frustrating. However, like I said, the staying fit target was the most important and that was the one I was most happy with come the end of the season.”

Jodi received early rewards for his ability to remain fit and his promising start to the 23/24 season with international call-ups for Malta, where he was fortunate enough to face England at Wembley Stadium.

A moment that may have looked a million miles away at certain stages of his career, but one that was simply nothing but deserved:

“It felt great stepping out at Wembley again, considering I did miss so much time due to injury. My dad said to me that considering how much I have been injured, I have played in some massive games and played at Wembley Stadium a good number of times.

“It was amazing you know, stepping out for Notts there was fantastic and obviously getting promoted and then getting to go back there was a bit surreal, especially to play against

England and them fantastic players it kind of felt like a dream come true and I felt blessed as some players do not get to experience that once. So, to do that again just after getting promoted with Notts to play against England was an unbelievable feeling.”

Jodi had mentioned prior to the beginning of last season in an interview throughout the summer that “the best is still yet to come…”. With a new record set, and endless awards swooped along the way, did he feel as though that was what he meant by the best?

“Mentioning that in the interview, I always look back at that because when I said it, I meant it. I would like to think that the fans are happy as I have now gone on to prove it because I knew that I was not at my best when I first arrived on loan, and I knew that there was plenty more to come.

“So, I am happy now that the fans know that I did not lie to them, and I was telling the truth. I did not think I would go on a break records to be fair, it was only at the start of the season when I was getting quite a few assists that I started thinking to myself ‘I wonder what the record is for the most assists in a season’ and then I started thinking ‘I could break these, you know…’.

“League Two player of the season? That was another target that I set myself. I would have been very disappointed if I had come away from the season without winning that because I know what I am capable of and that is why I set that target at the start of the season and I knew that I had to go on and win that to let people know that I am back.

“It is a fantastic achievement, and sometimes I do not think I give myself enough credit for what I did achieve because I am very harsh on myself just because I expect a lot from myself, I knew all along what I could do. I know I have had three bad injuries, but like I said I love football. I live and breathe football, I know what I can do with a football and that is why it was a target I set myself. That video of me winning the award people say I looked a bit shocked… I was not shocked that I had won, I think it was I was more relieved because I wanted to win it so bad, and I would have been gutted if I did not.”

From a loanee, to a player the fans have rapidly fallen in love with. So that posed the question of just how much did the love and affection from the supporters contribute into such a fine individual return?

“The fans absolutely adore me, and I feel the same way towards them. I like to think that I am a likeable character and the way that I play, it gets fans on their feet.

“I also would like to think that the fans now see me as a player that gives my all every time I am out on the pitch and plays for the badge. It was quite similar to when I was at Coventry City, the fans really liked me and it is the exact same at Notts and being loved and supported like that, it makes you feel super confident.

“Having fans like that, that back me all the way and love me so much I know if I make a mistake, they are not going to come for me and they are going to continue encouraging me because they know what I can do and I think as a footballer that is something that may get

under-appreciated. However, for me myself, I know that is how you get the best out of me and I think that has been displayed this season. The fans showed massive faith in me, they adore me and that is what makes me play my best football.”

When he signed for the club, it was under the old management of Luke Williams. The man that saw the potential that still remained in Jodi, and the man who reignited his career. Here is what he had to say when asked how Williams’ mid-season departure impacted him:

“I am not sure if I have spoken about this in any other interviews yet about how it felt when Luke left, this is really the first time. If I am being honest, I was absolutely gutted and I think I could go as far as saying I was heartbroken if I am really going to push it out there.

“I think I rang all my family members on the way home and I was just banging on about how good he is, telling them that they do not understand. They were saying that it was going to be okay, but I was just telling them that they just do not get it, you are not with him every day and how he makes me feel. He was a massive factor as to why I signed permanently.

“He helped me fall back in love with football, he made me feel so confident. He was just the best guy, and his staff as well although he was amazing, his staff were too. They never rushed off anywhere, they always wanted to help you.

“When he left it was horrible. When he left, the place was so down. Everybody was so gutted, and with the football he had us playing, it just felt like we could not lose with that guy.”

After such a heartfelt answer, it only felt right to then ask Jodi how his time at Notts so far has compared to his spells elsewhere in his career:

“I would say this is where I have felt at my most confident. I feel like this is where I am performing at my best and I have to thank the fans for that and the whole of Notts County for having such faith in a player who has been injured so many times.

“I think that is how you get the best out of me, because I had a point to prove and when I have a point to prove I always win because when I have a point to prove, I simply like to get my point across. At Coventry City I would say I started very well, but then I would say that the injuries then came and therefore it did not end too great there.

“At Oxford, it was not great at all. I had a really bad time at Oxford. But at Coventry and now at Notts, how the fans have treated me has been absolutely fantastic and now I am playing my best football at Notts County.

“The hunger that I have at the minute is the hungriest I have ever been, and that is because I have a point to prove. I have fans to pay back, staff to pay back and Notts County to pay back just for having the faith they have had in a player that was injured so much.”

To round off the chat, I asked the question that all fans would like the answer to. Where does the future lie for Jodi Jones? Rather than add anymore, I will let Jodi do the talking here:

“A lot of people have asked me this, a lot of people keep asking about my future and I think a lot of people forget that I am still under contract and that is simply all I am focused on.

“I am focused on coming back in for pre-season and doing even better than last season. I am looking forward to coming back in, seeing some new faces and the faces that we already have here and then kicking on and having another good season at Meadow Lane.”

*Article provided by K-Ci Rennicks (Notts County Correspondent).

*Main image @KRennicks40 the assist king Jodi Jones was a star performer for Notts over the season.

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