JORDAN Jones never really had a choice who he would support. That made the decision to join Rangers all the easier.

Born in Redcar, he would start his career with Middlesbrough and spend time out on loan at Hartlepool and Cambridge. Now, though, he is living the dream and making his father proud.

It was the guidance of his dad, Paul, that would point Jones towards Rangers as a kid but the ambition the 24-year-old had in his formative years never looked like becoming a reality until recently.

His performances in the first half of the campaign was enough to convince Steven Gerrard he should be part of his plans this term. Jones would sign a pre-contract deal in January and now he is up and running at Rangers after spending recent days at their training camp in Portugal.

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He arrived at Ibrox in fine form after impressing for Northern Ireland in the end of season European Championship qualifiers against Estonia and Belarus. To this day, his old man’s influence is shaping his career.

“My dad and his whole side of the family are from Belfast,” Jones said. “They have always drilled into me this this is a thing that’s part of me. That’s where it has come from.

“I think he’s still out celebrating! He was absolutely buzzing. It was a proud moment for everyone. He will be over watching every game, no doubt about that. He has never missed any of my games so I can’t see him wanting to miss any of these games that’s for sure. 

“Three years ago I didn’t know what I was doing. To go from that to finally reaching a club like this is a good turnaround. I think it’s a good story for a lot of young kids growing up. It was down to me. 

“I worked hard for three years and this is what it has led to. I’m not coming here to sit back. I want to come here and work hard again for the next three or four years and see where it takes us.”

At one stage, and not that long ago, Jones was staring at a very different path and his career could have veered down a dead end road. Six years ago, he was given a four-month custodial sentence suspended for two years and 120 hours’ unpaid work for watching a pal attack a defenceless partygoer.

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Released from Middlesbrough in the summer of 2016, Jones needed someone to take a chance on him. 

Since then, he has never looked back as Lee Clark, Lee McCulloch and lastly Steve Clarke got the best out of him and he has finally realised his potential and made the most of his talent for club and country.

The four-year contract he has signed with Rangers gives him the platform to take his career to another level once again.

“That was another thing for me,” Jones said as he reflected on how his life has changed for the better, both on and off the park. “If I’d stayed at home, I don’t know what way my life would have gone to be honest. 

“Coming up here and being away from all the mates I was hanging about with and my family, it was hard to take, but it did help me grow up. 

“Three years on, I’ve made the right decision in coming to Scotland and maturing. This is what it has led to. I just want to kick on now. 

“That’s the way I was when I was younger. To change from that to the way I am now is something to be proud of. It’s a good feeling.”

The deal that Jones signed with Rangers marked an important point in his career. It was an achievement, but not one that he can or will dwell on.

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He has joined a group that has a host of options for boss Gerrard to chose from and one which will be expected to compete for, and perhaps win, the Premiership title.

But the forward is ready for the challenge after enlisting the advice of former Killie team-mate Kris Boyd before making the move to Ibrox.“The squad is really big and there are a lot of good players here,” Jones said. “It’s not like you can come here and think you’ve arrived. You can’t. 

“You need to train as hard as you can every day, perform as well as you can and try to get yourself in the team which will be a hard task.

“I’ve realised how magnified everything is since I signed in January. Boydy has helped me. 

“He was telling me just about things more off the pitch than on the pitch. He was telling me about the demands from the fans to win trophies.  

“Little things like Instagram, Snapchat ... just to be careful really. 

“You’ve got to back yourself. If I didn’t back myself it would be pointless me being here. There’s a lot of healthy competition for places. 

“I just need to train as hard as I can every day and show the manager how much I want to be in the team. And when I do get in the team, I need to keep my place. There are a lot of training sessions to go before teams are picked for the games.”

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The first competitive fixture for Jones will arrive in just a couple of weeks as Rangers begin their Europa League qualifying campaign against Prishtina or St Joseph’s and set their sights on the group stages once again.

That game is the most important one for Jones to focus on but there are others that naturally catch his attention as he looks to hit the ground running and make an immediate impact in Light Blue.

His Premiership debut will come in familiar surroundings at Rugby Park on Sunday, August 4, while the first Old Firm clash of the campaign will be played just four weeks later as Celtic make the trip to Ibrox.

Jones said: “I can’t wait for that one [against Celtic]. That’s the first one you look for, but it’s a long time away. Our focus is just on the game on July 11 and training every day.

“My phone was going mental when [the Kilmarnock game] first came out. I was getting messages from the Kilmarnock boys saying they are going to do me!

“It should be good. I’m looking forward to it. They have a new pitch laid, a new manager and I’m sure they will feel confident going into the season, just as we will.”