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Vinnie Jones opens up on still struggling with the tragic death of his wife Tanya

Vinnie Jones has begun his ongoing struggle to come to terms with the tragic death of his wife Tanya three years ago.

The tough footballer turned actor, now 57, admits in an exclusive interview that the loss of his ‘rock’ Tanya in 2019 after a six-year battle with skin cancer ‘still doesn’t feel real’.

Speaking on the ‘Pub Talk’ podcast produced by streaming service Mola and presented by former Arsenal star Ray Parlor and broadcaster Alan Brazil, Jones – one of the leaders of Wimbledon’s Crazy Gang who rocked English football in the 1990s with their aggressive play and wild off-pitch behavior – also candidly discusses his alcoholism and having a ‘massive punch-up’ with Manchester United players.

But when discussing his grief for Tanya, who was 53 when she died, Jones reveals a very different side of his personality.

Jones describes going to a golf club with his father-in-law on a Saturday evening in July after Tanya, his wife of 25, passed away that morning.

He says: ‘We had nine holes, everyone was there. But the weird thing was that everyone was just doing their normal thing. This is the most traumatic day of our lives. This girl just passed away, we’ll never see her again and everything just goes on.

‘It’s there every day. Three quarters of my day. When I’m working, I don’t think about it. When I’m just drifting, doing things, or driving, it’s still not… it’s still not really for me. It’s still not real that she isn’t there.’

Vinnie Jones has opened up in an exclusive interview about his struggle with the tragic death of his wife Tanya three years ago after a six-year battle with skin cancer

Vinnie Jones has opened up in an exclusive interview about his struggle with the tragic death of his wife Tanya three years ago after a six-year battle with skin cancer

Jones spoke on the podcast 'Pub Talk', a platform for ex-sports stars to talk about mental health

Jones spoke on the podcast 'Pub Talk', a platform for ex-sports stars to talk about mental health

Jones spoke on the podcast ‘Pub Talk’, a platform for ex-sports stars to talk about mental health

Jones married his childhood sweetheart Tanya in 1994.  Both battled melanoma

Jones married his childhood sweetheart Tanya in 1994.  Both battled melanoma

Jones vowed never to remarry after losing Tanya

Jones vowed never to remarry after losing Tanya

Jones married his childhood sweetheart Tanya in 1994. Both battled melanoma

Jones has written a book about his experiences, Lost Without You: Loving And Losing Tanya.

In 2013, they were both diagnosed with melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer that kills around 2,000 people in the UK every year, and fought together, two years later everything became clear. However, the illness would later return for Tanya.

Jones has blamed his outdoor lifestyle for the cancer — exacerbated by his move to Los Angeles with Tanya to pursue his film career — while saying her cancer was caused by drugs she’s been taking since she had a heart transplant when she was in her early twenties.

Jones and Tanya had met at age 12 before exchanging their vows in 1994, with the actor previously admitting in Piers Morgan’s Life Stories that he will never remarry.

Jones, a recovering alcoholic, has been sober for nearly ten years now. The former defensive midfielder for Wales, Leeds and Chelsea also reveals on the podcast how bad things got when he was still drinking heavily, including being punched in the face with a glass in a row during a game of pool.

He adds, “I got a terrible tear in South Dakota. Had 68 stitches in my face. All the situations I got into could have been avoided without the booze… You see it coming.

“When I was down in the dumps, handcuffed, she (Tanya) was more worried about me than the cops or anything. It was her response. It disappointed her and disappointed her. Embarrassing her – those were the hard things.’

Jones also details the heartbreaking story of how Tanya learned her cancer had spread to her brain during a phone call at their Palm Springs home on Christmas Eve, while they had about 15 family members over Christmas. It was when they realized “it beat us,” Jones says, but Tanya was determined to have “the best Christmas ever,” so kept it a secret from everyone. “Her courage is unfathomable,” Jones says. “All she wanted to do was please people.”

He also tells the story of how he thinks he may have been spiritually connected to Tanya after her death. Around midnight the night Tanya died, Jones was sitting outside in the dark, and he says, ‘We always had this thing, Tans and I — when I was gone I’d give her a kiss and she’d catch it. There was a star, very close and not very high. So I said, “Is that you, honey?” Nothing. I went in but thought… “I didn’t throw the kiss”. So I went out again, threw the kiss and the light went wild!” I swear that’s what happened.”

The 57-year-old was known for his aggressive, uncompromising style of play on the pitch

The 57-year-old was known for his aggressive, uncompromising style of play on the pitch

The 57-year-old was known for his aggressive, uncompromising style of play on the pitch

Jones was part of the Wimbledon side that famously beat Liverpool to win the FA Cup in 1988

Jones was part of the Wimbledon side that famously beat Liverpool to win the FA Cup in 1988

Jones was part of the Wimbledon side that famously beat Liverpool to win the FA Cup in 1988

Jones, who won the FA Cup at Wimbledon in 1988 beating giants Liverpool in one of the game’s biggest setbacks and played over 500 games in a storied career, also speaks of his remarkable career on the pitch.

He admits he was involved in a ‘massive punch-up’ at Manchester United and ‘another really good one’ at Millwall.

Jones recalls John Fashanu hitting Viv Anderson’s infamous ‘spark in the tunnel’ during a game against United in 1988, saying: ‘Viv Anderson was warming up and doing or saying something. Fash got hit halfway through the time and said “Jonesy, get me back!”, and he ran in…so I ran after him and Viv Anderson turned around and Fash was just gone, “bang!” Whoomph, he’s done (knockout). It’s all kicked off. (Dennis) Wise has Bryan Robson or someone around the neck and he hits him, we were all inside and the whole thing went off!’

Jones’ football career began in non-League at Wealdstone, when he also worked his day job as a hod carrier on construction sites. He only became a full-time professional when he signed for Wimbledon in 1986 at the age of 21.

Jones has gone on to become an actor since he retired from football and has made more than 100 films, often playing criminals or villains, including in Mean Machine and X-Men: The Last Stand. He also revealed on the podcast that he has a major project in the pipeline and discussed the “terrible” name for Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, the crime film that launched his new career.

In the full Pub Talk episode, released on Friday, Jones also tells stories of ‘surfing’ on the roof of a BMW traveling at 40mph on the A20 and going to Sandown races in Surrey and wakes up in Dublin, Ireland without knowing how he got there.

The footballer turned actor also opened up about his alcoholism and how drinking affected him

The footballer turned actor also opened up about his alcoholism and how drinking affected him

Jones grabs Paul Gascoigne's genitals during one of his most infamous moments on the pitch

Jones grabs Paul Gascoigne's genitals during one of his most infamous moments on the pitch

The football player turned actor also opened up about his alcoholism and how drinking affected him; he’s pictured here grabbing Paul Gascoigne’s genitals in one of his most infamous moments

Jones got his acting breakthrough in the Guy Ritchie movie Lock, Stock and two Smoking Barrels

Jones got his acting breakthrough in the Guy Ritchie movie Lock, Stock and two Smoking Barrels

Jones got his acting breakthrough in the Guy Ritchie movie Lock, Stock and two Smoking Barrels

PubTalk.life is a platform that focuses on raising awareness about mental health issues. Alan Brazil and Ray Parlor bring guests from the world of sports and entertainment to their Pub to share how their career has had highs and lows.

Pub Talk is about sharing stories and changing lives by helping to break the stigma surrounding mental health issues. The platform includes a professional psychologist who reviews the real life stories of our guests and provides support to our audience going through similar experiences.

Readers can watch the full episode here Friday from 7 p.m.

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