Sunday 22 July 2018

Centurion Davis ready to lead North from the front

Steven Davis. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Steven Davis. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Steven Beacom

Steven Davis will approach his 100th cap for Northern Ireland as he has done the previous 99 - ready to make the most out of it.

And on this occasion that means securing a result against Switzerland at Windsor Park on Thursday night that can take Northern Ireland a step closer to their World Cup dream.

Manager Michael O'Neill believes it is fitting that Davis will make his landmark appearance in such a massive match.

Davis says he will be more than happy to look back on it with pride once the job is done for the team in Belfast and Basel, where the return leg will take place on Sunday.

The 32-year-old Southampton midfielder has enjoyed a brilliant career at club and international level but reaching the World Cup finals would certainly be the highlight.

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"I have been very fortunate with my entire career. Football has given me a lot," he said.

"I have enjoyed every moment and tried to make the most of every moment. My approach has always been to try and make the most of every opportunity, give my all and go as far as I can and help the team as much as I can. That's what I'll be doing against Switzerland in the World Cup play-offs."

Davis was instrumental in O'Neill's side qualifying for Euro 2016. It's just over two years ago since he scored twice against Greece in a 3-1 home victory that took Northern Ireland to their first major tournament since 1986.

The captain dedicated his goals and the win to his beloved mum Laura who had passed away in 2008 after losing her battle with cancer.

"That was an emotional night and one I look back on personally as one of my best memories in a Northern Ireland shirt," he said.

Important

"To get two goals in such an important game was great for me personally but there was a lot of hard work done by the manager, staff and players before that.

"Qualifying for the Euros was a real squad effort and getting to the World Cup play-offs has been the same. For the Greece game, we all knew the consequences of what a win would do and now we have two games to play with a World Cup place at stake."

Irish Independent

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