When Jones broke through in the Blackburn Rovers first team, he was touted as a future England star.
A decade later, things have not worked out the way Jones and his many admirers expected.
But ex-teammate Samba thinks the hype was justified.
"The names of the people he's been put in a bracket with are justified, he looked like he had that ceiling," Samba told the BBC.
"Unfortunately, longevity, injuries, they have been against him but that's what football is.
"He could have been much more and he was already an international.
"Injury changed everything."
He added: "When Phil Jones was in the reserves, on the way to coming to us, sometimes he was training with us and I was like 'hmm, no, I don't think so'.
"But the more time that passed by, and the more he trained with us, the more I was like 'wow'.
"He changed so fast from someone you'd look at and think 'hmm, I'm not sure about him' to a year later you're like 'wow, that's some player.
"I remember a game where two central defenders were injured and Sam Allardyce came to me and said 'Chris, what do you think, would you mind playing with Phil Jones?' and I was like 'no, of course, if this is his chance, let him play'.
"From the first minute he smashed Drogba, he had the crowd behind him and after about 70 minutes he was like 'come on, Chris'.
"He was unbelievable, I've never seen progression like that. In the period of two years he was like a different player."