Hibernian defender Rhonda Jones will be honoured at Scotland’s next home match against Bulgaria after notching up her 75th cap in Scotland’s 2-1 win over South Africa at this year’s Cyprus Women’s Cup.
Rhonda first pulled on the dark blue jersey aged 18, after being spotted at Ayr United Ladies by then Scotland Women’s coach, and current Scottish FA director of football development, Jim Fleeting.
Her introduction to international football Park was far from smooth though. “My first game was a World Cup qualifier against Estonia at Somerset Park,” she told www.scottishfa.co.uk. “The one thing I remember about the game was being yellow carded. I was booked again in my second game, then had to serve a suspension in what should have been my third game!
“I was brought into the squad after the player who was holding down my position broke her leg, so I would have been proud to get that one cap, but I’ve been here ever since.”
Rhonda started her playing career with Ayr United Ladies, before spending the best part of a decade in America. “When I was 21 I got a scholarship at Florida Atlantic University, where I kept on playing. I was at university for five years and I loved it so much over there that I stayed for another 4 ½ years, and ended up playing semi-professional football with Tampa Bay Hellenic. I was flying back and forth to play for Scotland, but at the end of 2008 I came home and managed to sign for Hibernian.”
Rhonda’s 75th Scotland appearance was short, but certainly memorable, as she fought her way back from injury. “I had been suffering from an ankle injury and hadn’t played a game yet at the Cyprus Women’s Cup. We were beating South Africa 2-1 and Anna put me on for the last 10 minutes in the centre of midfield. I’m usually stuck at the back, so I’ll definitely remember that one!”
Now back to full fitness, Rhonda is relishing the prospect of playing in this year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifiers. After back-to-back wins over Greece and Georgia in the opening games, Scotland face another double header, starting with a trip to Georgia on Saturday.
“It’s definitely within our grasp to win in Georgia. We don’t want to become over-confident after beating them at Tynecastle, but we’re going there looking for a result.
“We do know quite a bit about them after the home game. I don’t think we performed particularly well in that game, but we still scored a few goals, got another three points, and that’s what counts.
“Bulgaria we don’t know quite as much about, but they surprised Denmark by holding them to a 0-0 draw. We can’t think about previous results though, we’re just looking to keep winning. We’re on a roll now and I think we’ve got every chance of doing well against Bulgaria in Falkirk.”