Kenwyne Jones has revealed the reasons behind his decision to commit the peak years of his career to Sunderland, insisiting: "I think I was meant to be here." The 24-year-old Trinidad and Tobago forward snubbed the opportunity to make a big-money move to Tottenham, instead signing a deal with his current club that will keep at the Stadium of Light until 2013.
His loyalty to Sunderland has won him plaudits beyond the realm of the passionate local fanbase but Jones said he had never felt he really had a tough choice to make. "Sometimes in football you don't have control of your future," he said. "One day you are on top, the next day you are at the bottom. But what will be, will be. I think I was meant to be here."
Jones put pen to paper on Tuesday and celebrated in appropriate fashion with the only goal in a 1-0 win over Fulham that lifted Sunderland away from the relegation dogfight. Although it was far from being the striker's best performance of the season, his decisive intervention will have convinced Sunderland manager Ricky Sbragia and chairman Niall Quinn that the time they put in trying to convince the striker to stay was well spent.
Jones made it clear that he has bought into Quinn's vision of how Sunderland can progress, although he could not resist quipping: "Maybe they thought the offer for me wasn't enough."
"Everyone has their plans of how they want the club to progress and Sunderland is taking a step in the right direction," he added. "It's nice to know that where you are playing, they want you that much they will turn away offers and tie you up. It's also nice to know another manager saw something in me and wanted to take me to his club, but I think Sunderland is a big football club.
"I have made this decision and I am quite happy to stay here," Jones went on. "You want stability in your life 90 per cent of the time, I guess, but sometimes that doesn't happen. Thankfully, I am here still. All in all, I am happy to be here and happy to be part of a big club. Hopefully we can progress and realise our ambitions."
Sbragia believes Jones can evolve into one of the most effective target men in the Premier League. "He has got a lot to learn, but he will be a handful, but there are not many people his size in the Premier League," the Sunderland boss said. "He is a target man and he is willing to learn, that's the good thing about him.
"In his mind, he feels right, but there is a lot still to come from him. He probably might not realise it's there, but potential-wise, there is an awful lot more to come."