This was a familiar sight in England – Vinnie Jones getting carded.

Twenty-five years ago this week, FrontRowSoccer.com editor Michael Lewis journeyed to London to pursue ambitious project: write about English soccer, sometimes with local flavor, other times with a U.S. twist. He wound up attending seven matches over 12 days in all four professional leagues. He wrote the stories for Soccer New York, a print publication, in January 1996.

As it turned out, this series comes at a time when crowds in London have been forbidden due to the discovery of a mutated strain of COVID-19. FrontRowSoccer.com already had planned to re-post this series as it comes on the 25th anniversary of this trip.

By Michael Lewis

LONDON – The most reviled man in all of English soccer?

That’s easy.

It has to be Wimbledon defender Vinnie Jones, who seems to set another low standard for the game every time he steps onto the pitch.

So far this Premier League season, Jones has asked to be placed on the transfer list (there haven’t been many takers), has been sent off three times and severely criticized in the press. His lifetime rap sheet is too long to list.

Jones’ lowlights include giving the Chelsea fans an obscene gesture when he played there and biting the nose of a sportswriter (hopefully, the writer had a rabies shot).

His most recent transgression came against former A.C. Milan and Dutch star Ruud Gullit of Chelsea. Jones fouled Gullit on Dec. 26 for his second yellow card of the game, which was a red-card offense. It was also the 11th time in Jones’ career that he had been given his marching orders.

Jones said Gullit took a dive, a claim none of the sometimes controversial Wimbledon management backed him up on.

A couple of days later in a column in the Daily Mirror, Jones claimed that Gullit squealed more than his pet pigs.

“But they don’t squeal as much as him,” he wrote.

“There is a new noise in football – it is called the Foreign Squeal. The Beautiful Game? What’s beautiful about lying in mud and acting like a cockroach on its back? How does it feel, Ruud?”

Talking about the pot calling the kettle black.

Not surprisingly, Jones, 30, was charged with bringing the game into disrepute.

He apologized for all ill-advised remarks several days later, but it was too little and too late.

Next: Yet another London interlude