AN EMOTIONAL Brad Jones helped Liverpool progress to the FA Cup final and then urged Pepe Reina to ensure they go on and lift the trophy at Wembley next month.
The Australian goalkeeper admits he’s not sure if he will get the opportunity to play for the Reds again after making his first start in 16 months in Saturday’s semi-final against Everton.
The club’s third choice shot-stopper found himself in the spotlight after both Reina and Alexander Doni picked up suspensions.
And Jones didn’t let Liverpool down as goals from Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll secured a 2-1 win for Kenny Dalglish’s men.
With Reina and Doni now available the 30-year-old knows he’s unlikely to make the 18-man squad for the final.
“I’ve told Pepe he’s got to go out and get us the trophy now,” Jones said.
“Pepe is one of the best in the world and it’s up to him now. He was buzzing afterwards.
“It was difficult for him and Doni to have missed the game. I know Doni was devastated after getting banned.
“But we’re all good mates and whoever goes out there has to do the same job.
“That might be the last game I get but I’m proud to be here. It’s all about the club and making sure we get another trophy.
“There will be no wild celebrations after that. The job is not done and we have to go out and do it all over again in the final.”
At the final whistle Jones sunk to his knees and pointed to the heavens in memory of his young son Luca who passed away last November following a long battle with leukaemia.
It has been a hugely difficult time both personally and professionally for the keeper, who hadn’t featured in a matchday squad under Dalglish prior to last week’s league game at Blackburn.
But 10 days after becoming a father again following his partner Dani giving birth to Nico, he was lining up in the all-Merseyside FA Cup semi-final.
“Every time I walk out onto the pitch I think of Luca and I just like to make him proud,” he added.
“He was never without his football shirt when I was with him so that was for him and he always used to look out for me, and I’m sure he’s done the same today.
“It was a massive game and my boy was my biggest fan so that was for him.”
It wasn’t Jones’ first FA Cup semi-final as he came off the bench to replace the injured Mark Schwarzer for Middlesbrough against West Ham in 2006.
However, this one had a happier outcome as he rose to the challenge and was rarely tested by David Moyes’s men.
“It was a massive game to be involved in,” he said.
“Coming to Wembley to face Everton doesn’t really get much bigger as a Liverpool player. We’re just delighted with the win.
“I came on for Middlesbrough in a Cup semi-final and as a keeper you always have to be prepared.
“I’m involved with the first team every day and I’ve been training hard. I’ve played like four or five reserve games so I wanted to come out and do as well as I could.
“Everton have got a good front line but they didn’t have that many chances. The boys kept the ball away from me for most of the game so there wasn’t much going on. That shows the class of our defenders.
“I tried to keep myself out of the way. Unless you save a penalty, you want to finish the game and people not remember you were out there.
“You don’t hide away but at the end of the day it’s about the boys who scored the goals. Apart from a couple of high balls I didn’t really have any shots to save.
“Everything that has happened in the last 10 days are all positive things. In terms of Nico being born and coming on after not being involved for such a long time and then getting an opportunity to play at Wembley for Liverpool is great. That’s another dream of mine ticked off now and it was a proud moment.”
Jones believes match-winner Carroll epitomised the character Liverpool showed to come back from 1-0 down at the break to keep their push for a Cup double alive.
“A lot is written about Andy but it’s not necessarily true,” Jones said. “He works hard on the training pitch and he’s a good guy to have around.
“We’re all buzzing for him. Maybe that goal will shut a few people up and he can get on with being a footballer.
“All the boys showed their class. At half-time the manager said we needed to lift the performance and we played at a higher tempo and it was a different game. With the good players we have got we knew we would create opportunities.”