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Get well soon Joey

WELSH football legend Joey Jones was recovering last night after undergoing heart surgery at a Liverpool hospital.

WELSH football legend Joey Jones was recovering last night after undergoing heart surgery at a Liverpool hospital.

The 47-year-old Wrexham coach and former Welsh international defender had a fourhour operation to remove a leaking heart valve at the Cardiothoracic Centre, Broadgreen - the same hospital that saved Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier's life.

The ex-Wales star's wife, Janice and family are with him.

His close friend, Mickey Thomas, the former Welsh international, and a teammate of Joey's at Chelsea and Wrexham, has also been by his side.

Joey, a one-time Liverpool European Cup-winning player, had a scan on Friday after he complained to doctors of dizzy spells.

He was admitted on Monday for surgery and was recovering in intensive care last night. Mickey Thomas said: "I've been to see him. He's recovering and is in good spirits and hopefully will be up and about in no time.

"We have been lifelong friends. They don't come much better than Joey. When I had my troubles, he was there for me.

"He's a great man who did a lot for Welsh football and for Wrexham and Liverpool. He's also done a lot for charity and the community."

Former Wrexham star striker Dixie McNeil, who lives near him in Wrexham, said: "I spoke to Joey on Sunday before he went in for the operation. I haven't spoken to him since to let him recuperate.

"He was fine then and very positive about the operation. As he was when he played, Joey has plenty of get up and go. As soon as he's had the operation he'll want to go. He's not the type of man to let time pass by.

"I'll be going around their house to call in to see him and Janice. I bump into him often because he's a very big walker of his dogs and usually goes three times a day. From what I gather he was told to stop playing five-a-side before the operation, which he was a bit peeved about. That's typical of Joey."

Tommy Smith, the former Liverpool defender and another close friend of Joey's, said: "About a month ago I spoke to Joey who said he had problems with his heart.

"He said one of the tubes was getting blocked and he needed an operation to replace a valve.

"He is a personal friend of mine, a lovely fella who's usually as fit as a fiddle. It just shows this can happen to anyone."

Wrexham FC chairman Pryce Griffiths said: "I would like to send him my best wishes and those of the club. If he can have visitors-I will be visiting him tomorrow." Former Wrexham and Wales midfielder Arfon Griffiths said: "It's a bit of a shock. He would be the last person you would expect this to happen to. He's such a fit lad. But it's down to the stress of football today."

Gresford newsagent Mr Griffiths added: "Joey is so jovial and he has a great sense of humour. My good wishes are with him. I hope he has a speedy recovery. I will give him a ring when he comes out."

Welsh football commentator Dylan Llywelyn said: "I saw Joey Jones and Mickey Thomas who were speaking as a double act at a function at Pwllheli two months ago. Joey looked as fit as anybody could, there wasn't a millimetre of fat on him. He looked exactly like he did when he was a player - tall and thin."

Llandudno-born Joey was a toughtackling hero of Wrexham's Racecourse as well as Liverpool's Kop.

Before each match, he'd acknowledge the Wrexham fans' chants of his name by raising his tattooed arm. His gritty style of play earned him an instant rapport with the fans.

Probably one of his finest hours came in Rome in 1977 as part of the Liverpool European Cup-winning side which defeated Borrussia Munchengladbach 3-1.

After making 93 appearances for Liverpool he returned to Wrexham in 1978, later moving to Chelsea and Huddersfield before returning to coach the North Wales club in the 1990s.

He was coach when Brian Flynn left the club and has stayed on since as first team coach under present manager Dennis Smith...SUPL:


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