MICHAEL HADLEY - Thursday, July 5, 2012
Mike Jones of St. Peters, Missouri has signed his first international contract, agreeing to terms on a three year contract with FC Hjørring of the Danish First Division.
"What can I say more than this has just been a dream of mine," Jones said in a statement to Yanks Abroad. "(I) never thought my dreams to play MLS and now overseas would ever come true.
"More than anything it's a privilege to get the chances an the opportunities that I've been blessed with."
Jones attended college at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, playing center defense and scoring six goals and assisting two. Jones was drafted in Major League Soccer's 2011 Supplemental Draft by Sporting Kansas City.
After being waived by the team in May 2011, he was quickly signed by New York Red Bulls in June of the same year, making two first team appearances, one in the US Open Cup. Training, but not playing competitively, with Red Bulls in London during the 2011 Emirates Cup, Jones was first scouted by the Danish side.
FC Hjørring was initially tipped off to Jones by his former teammate in Kansas City, Danish goalie Jimmy Nielsen.
"He is physically very strong and impressive in the air," Nielsen told bold.dk about the young Missourian.
Nielsen had previously suggested ex-Tottenham Hotspur Calum Butcher to the club, and following Butcher's departure following his initial season with the club, Nielsen knew the young defender would be a great fit.
"He must improve his game at the ground," Nielsen added, "but he is already good enough for the Danish first division."
Despite Nielsen's positive message to the club, Jones says he doesn't necessarily expect to start at the beginning of the season.
"I don't expect anything," he explained. "I just expect to go there play with passion, compete and play to my best abilities to help benefit the team."
Originally, FC Hjørring had attempted to transfer Jones from New York in the fall of 2011, but a deal could never be agreed upon. After his release from Red Bulls in November 2011, the two parties again attempted to negotiate a contract in January of 2012 but they were unable to agree on terms during the transfer window.
"I've always had that drive to play at the highest level," he explained about playing in Europe, "but I just plan to take things one day at a time and I just love the opportunities I'm getting to play with such a great team in general"
Jones is set to join his new teammates in Hjørring, Vendsyssel, Denmark on 3 July when the club's preseason begins.