Wednesday 21 February 2018

Davies showing the benefits of a Danish education

Tottenham's Ben Davies celebrates scoring their second goal at Huddersfield on Saturday. Photo: REUTERS
Tottenham's Ben Davies celebrates scoring their second goal at Huddersfield on Saturday. Photo: REUTERS

Jonathan Liew

About 15 years ago, Alun Davies took a job in Denmark with a company that produces central heating pumps.

And so Alun and his wife Eryl packed their bags and moved to a town called Viborg, taking their football-mad eight-year-old Ben with them. Ben joined the local academy, and soon found himself getting a rare and valuable footballing education.

During the harsh Danish winters, indoor football was the game of choice, with pristine artificial surfaces and an emphasis on control, passing and movement.

"It was a lot more technical and organised at that age," Davies would later recall. "At that level I also found that the quality was better. It's something they should do here (in the UK)."

Davies returned to Wales at the age of 11 and it is tempting to wonder whether he would have become the player he did if he had instead spent those years charging up and down the muddy pitches of his rugby-focused Swansea primary school.

In an important sense, that technical education, that ball craft, that thirst for learning, developing the outer reaches of his game, has never quite left him.

Demolition

To watch Davies in Tottenham's 4-0 demolition of Huddersfield Town on Saturday was to be reminded of that.

While most of the plaudits were reserved for Harry Kane and his two goals, Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino went out of his way to praise Davies, whose outstanding performance at left wing-back was another leap forward for one of the English game's most improved players.

"For me, he is one of the best full-backs in the Premier League," Pochettino said.

"The performance was fantastic. Okay, Harry Kane, but Ben was also one of the best on the pitch in defending and attacking. His energy is fantastic."

Davies has been at Tottenham for three years now and, until the start of this season, would have been nobody's idea of a footballing icon. Danny Rose has long been recognised as Spurs' first-choice left-back.

Spurs fans do not even have a song for Davies. But all the while, he was building, maturing, sharpening to a point. They always used to talk about his capacity for learning at Swansea, combining a youth-team career with studying for his A-levels.

On the Tottenham bus, he can often be seen with his nose buried in a book. That unwavering commitment to self-improvement has been one of the constants in his career.

In Pochettino, Davies has found the perfect guide, and there is surely more to come. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk

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