KENWYNE JONES believes he was meant to play for Sunderland after turning his back on Tottenham Hotspur.
But the 23-year-old not only snubbed his old Southampton boss Harry Redknapp, he underlined his commitment to the Black Cats by yesterday signing a four-and-a-half-year contract extension.
And Jones celebrated in style by scoring his eighth goal in 17 games this season as Fulham lost 1-0 at the Stadium of Light.
Many will have visited the bookmakers’ stalls before the match believing a Jones goal was fate. And that is how the deeply religious player views his decision to stay on Wearside.
“Sometimes in football you don’t have control of your future,” he explained. “One day you’re on top, the next day you’re at the bottom.
“But what will be, will be. I think I was meant to be here.
“It’s nice to know another manager sees something in me and wants to bring me to his club but I think Sunderland is a big football club. I’ve made this decision and I’m quite happy to stay here.
“You want stability in your life 90% of the time, I guess, but sometimes that doesn’t happen.
“Thankfully I’m here still. All in all I’m happy to be here and happy to be part of a big club.
“Hopefully we can progress and realise our ambition of becoming a big club.
“Maybe Sunderland thought Tottenham’s bid wasn’t enough. It’s nice to know that where you’re playing they want you that much they’ll turn away offers and tie you up.”
When the contract extension was announced, Jones revealed he wanted to play his part in the club’s progression.
But he refused to disclose how chairman Niall Quinn and manager Ricky Sbragia plan to make that happen.
“I can’t disclose what was said,” he said.
“Everyone has their plans of how they want the club to progress and Sunderland is taking a step in the right direction.”
The Black Cats’ win was their first since Sbragia took permanent charge on December 27.
It sets them up well for Sunday’s short trip to St James’s Park.
Jones said afterwards his only focus last night was beating a Fulham side which has exceeded expectations so far this season, however.
“Going to Newcastle is a big game but tonight was all about the three points,” he said.
“It was important we tried to separate ourselves from the bottom and push up the league. It was important we got the win and thankfully we did.
“Fulham were always going to play well. They have their strengths and their weaknesses.
“They came and tried to exercise their strengths but thankfully we got the win.
“Sometimes in games you only get the one chance and you need to take it. I did tonight.
“It was a great way to celebrate the win and of course signing a new deal and pledging my future to Sunderland.
“I will start thinking about Newcastle on Wednesday. For now I’m enjoying the win and Newcastle will see about itself.”
That attitude is very much in keeping with Jones’ whole approach to life.
The day was very much about looking to the future with Sunderland’s star player committing himself until 2013, but the Trinidad and Tobago international did not want to look beyond this morning’s training session at the Academy of Light.
“My ambition now is to go home, have a rest, train tomorrow and think about that day’s training,” he said.
“I can’t foresee what might happen in the future or see my plans. You never know what’s going to happen. I only think about today.”