Though having gained immense top-level experience at Highbury, and having shared in some of Arsenal’s greatest glory days, Jon had also suffered a rare measure of disappointment before arriving at Leicester for £ 100 000 as Jimmy Bloomfield’s first purchase.
To set against his winning of one Football League honor and nine England Under-23 caps, his Wembley League Cup trips had both ended in defeat, while his winning goal in Arsenal’s 1970 Fairs Cup final triumph had seemed to herald a brighter future for Jon than the fate of being sidelined for much of the following Double season.
The elegant midfielder soon shrugged off any ill effects on his morale, though, as he set about helping re-establish City as a First Division force and in fact, in his first senior game, prompting them to capture the FA Charity Shield. Adept at slowing the pace of a game, Jon didn’t always endear himself to an impatient crowd, but he was blessed with a sharp eye for telling long pass and could also unleash a fair-long distance shot, as well as showing a willingness to play guinea-pig at the center of some of Bloomfield’s more extrovert tactical experiments.
Remember the short lived ‘S Plan’ with Jon cast in a Beckenbauer-like sweeper role. His consistency over six and a half seasons in the top flight was admirable, and it was notable that the team’s precipitate decline in 1977/8 coincided with the waning influence of Jon on the City attack. After spells in the NASL and in senior non-league football, Jon returned to Leicestershire to open a driving school.
Jon Sammels was one of seven City players – but the only ex-Gunner – to have faced Arsenal no less than seven times during 1974/5. Two First Division encounters were supplemented by three FA Cup meetings and two League Cup ties. A club record for matches against one club in one season.
The other City ‘ever present’ in this little series were Steve Whitworth, Keith Weller, Steve Earle, Frank Worthington, Alan Birchenall and Len Glover.
Jon moved over the pond to play for Vancouver Whitecaps in the NASL, alongside his former teammate at Leicester City, Steve Kember. After his return back, he turned out for Non-League team Nuneaton Borough until 1982, moving into a car instructor business back in Leicester.