IT’S been emotional watching Vinnie Jones over the past few weeks.
The Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels star has been competing on The X Factor: Celebrity in tribute to his wife Tanya who lost her battle with cancer in July aged just 53.
In doing so, he’s become an inspiration for widowers dealing with the grief of losing a partner.
And according to Vinnie, he’s done it all with his beloved wife of 25 years by his side.
Speaking exclusively to The Sun, the 54-year-old said: “I talk to her all of the time. Constantly, every day.
“We have a little chat when I’m making my bed. This morning I went ‘there you go babe, look’ and it wasn’t my best bed making, so I re-did it.”
Tanya passed away at the family home in Los Angeles after Vinnie refused to move her into a hospice.
She was diagnosed with melanoma, the most serious skin cancer, in 2013. It was an illness Vinnie also battled but while he was given the all-clear, Tanya was not.
She had also been treated twice for cervical cancer and underwent a heart transplant at 21 after the birth of daughter Kayley.
Vinnie has sold the house since her death saying it would be too heartbreaking to stay without her, surrounded by memories.
But he has bought the property next door, where Kayley, 32, — Tanya’s daughter from her relationship with ex-husband Steve Terry — currently lives.
Vinnie tells how the impact of Tanya’s death hasn’t just affected him, Kayley and their son Aaron, 28, who’s training to be a pilot in Ireland.
He explains: “Tanya’s little dog Gypsy passed away last week.
“Kayley phoned me at 3am to tell me. That dog never left her side. He was about ten. He had a lot of cancers, liver failure and everything else.
"But we take a positive view — he’s with Tanya now. It’s incredible how he died so close to her.”
Vinnie, who discovered his spiritual side following the death of his grandfather when he was 18, says Tanya and Gypsy “had a spiritual bond”.
He adds: “They were that close and he was with her when she passed.”
Vinnie has been inundated with messages from fellow widowers thanking him for helping them seek new ways to deal with their grief.
His message of advice is both simple and poignant — and it’s all about making the bed.
Vinnie says: “Whichever way your day goes, no matter how heavy the grief is — when you go to bed, you have a nice clean one to get into and you start again. And that’s what I do every day.
“I had one guy on Tuesday who said: ‘You’ve inspired me. I wake up and make my bed every morning.’”
Vinnie’s transformation from football hardman to national treasure is extraordinary.
This is a man who was sent off a record 12 times and was fined £20,000 by the FA in 1992 for giving tips on how to injure players while providing commentary for an infamous video called Soccer’s Hard Men.
The image of him grabbing Paul Gascoigne’s crotch while snarling with menace remains one of the most iconic pictures in English football history.
But he also had a lot of success, making over 400 appearances during his 15-year career. One of the many highlights was a shock FA Cup win with Wimbledon against Liverpool.
So does he have unfinished business in football? If a certain Portuguese manager with a new job comes calling, that would definitely be the case.
Vinnie says: “I’m in my fifties now and I want to — need to — have the reins of my life. I don’t want to be trying to catch a lift. I want to be my own boss.
“But if Jose Mourinho called me up and said ‘Vinnie, can you be my No2 at Spurs because I want team spirit’, it would be something I would consider.”
Asked if he gets offers to return to the game, he adds: “Listen mate, the way my phone goes, don’t be surprised at anything. It’s just crazy, from one thing to the next.”
But he accepts the changing room has changed since his antics at Wimbledon where the players’ were dubbed The Crazy Gang.
My life could be film
VINNIE says he would love pal Guy Ritchie to make a movie about his life.</p>
<p>He believes his journey from working on building sites to having a top flight football career, then mixing with A-listers as an actor would make a great screen adventure.</p>
<p>He told The Sun: “I was working on a building site, played in Sweden, came back, and scored the winning goal against Manchester Utd.</p>
<p>“I became an international, won the FA Cup and starred alongside Angelina Jolie, John Travolta, Hugh Jackman and Joe Pesci. I’ll leave it to Guy to write.”</p>
<p>Vinnie says he and Tanya never mingled with the Hollywood elite during his time in LA. He explained: “We lived in LA but we’re never been part of that scene. We never did the whole red carpet thing.</p>
<p>“I think we’ve been to three premieres, and two of them were to support (producer) Matthew Vaughn.</p>
<p>“It was just not our thing. We were very grounded, we loved having people over at the house, it wasn’t intentional, but most Saturday nights it was English people. We didn’t set out that way, it just happened.”</p>
<p>He adds: “We loved living there but the taxes were a nightmare — but people say with the taxes, you’re paying for the sunshine. It took me about five years to stop me looking out the window to decide what I was going to wear.</p>
<p>"Now I have a couple pairs of jeans but it’s mostly all shorts.”
He says: “I went into the Liverpool dressing room a few years ago, before Steven Gerrard retired, and they all had headphones on.
"Not one of them were talking and Stevie was having a rub. I said ‘what’s going on?’ and he said ‘that’s it now mate — that’s how it is’. I couldn’t have that now as a manager.”
However, if the X Factor: Celebrity goes his way the music world could come beckoning.
He’s currently one of the favourites to win after impressing voters as well as head judge Simon Cowell.
Tanya encouraged him to accept Simon’s offer of a place on the show before her death, as she had been a huge fan of the long-running ITV series.
And after the drama of last Saturday’s quarter final show, in which he offered to step down and allow axed rival Kevin McHale from US TV series Glee to remain in the competition at his expense, he is now desperate to win it.
He jokes: “Vin to win! I lost the plot a little bit last week and I forgot the charities I’m doing this for — Tanya’s two charities.
In hindsight I shouldn’t have done it and I thank Simon for keeping me in.”
And does he think Tanya would have believed he could reach the semi-finals? He says: “Whatever I do, she’ll think I can win it.
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"But I need to win this for the charities. That would be the icing on the cake.”
And that would be emotional.
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