Belfast Telegraph

Another happy Hampden Park memory is the aim for Steven Davis

By Steven Beacom

Northern Ireland captain Steven Davis has a host of happy Hampden Park memories and is determined to create another one against Scotland tonight.

The Southampton midfielder knows the iconic venue better than any of his international team-mates having won FIVE trophies at the stadium from his time at Rangers. He even managed to score in an Old Firm final and pick up man of the match awards.

Big occasions normally bring out the best in Davis.

While victory is not the be all and end all in the friendly between the home nations, just a few days before vital Euro 2016 qualifiers for both countries, it's clear Davis would like to leave the ground on a high.

"I've been lucky enough to play in a lot of big matches at the stadium and I've had a lot of success there too, so I'm looking forward to going back and creating some new memories," said the 30-year-old, whose Hampden highlight doesn't surprise.

That was in 2011 when he scored in a 2-1 win over Celtic.

"The last Hampden one stands out when we played Celtic in the League Cup final," he recalled at yesterday's press conference.

"Celtic were favourites going into it, so it was a really important game for us. It set the tone for the remainder of the league campaign and I scored that day too."

With Davis back in Scotland three years after leaving Ibrox, like Kyle Lafferty the day before, the subject of his time at Rangers, how he left and what the future could bring for the club was always going to crop up.

The former Aston Villa and Fulham man, excelling for Southampton this season, was ready for the questions.

He spoke positively about the new board and new manager Stuart McCall and showed he hasn't lost touch with the club by talking about their weekend win over Hibs, adding that he hoped the team could build on that for the rest of the season.

Like several players at the time, the Northern Ireland skipper left under a cloud in the eyes of some Gers fans when the club's financial problems began to unravel.

Asked about his departure, Davis said: "It's an impossible subject to talk about as you'll never please everyone with what you say or by the actions which you took, but the truth is we could only have made a decision based on what we thought was best at the time.

"I was lucky enough to have four and a half really successful years at Rangers and obviously the positives massively outweigh any negatives.

"The biggest disappointment was how everything ended and unfolded, but I will always look back on it as one of the most enjoyable times of my career."

Quizzed on a possible return to the club in the future, unlike Lafferty, there was no clear indication that one day he would want to go back.

"In football you never know. I spent four and a half good years there and if the opportunity arose it is something I would have to consider," said Davis, who added that he has not been at Ibrox since leaving but would like to attend the stadium to watch a game.

Of more pressing relevance to Davis is playing at Hampden for his country.

"It's a good game for us to have before we face Finland in the Euro qualifier," stated Davis, set to earn his 72nd cap tonight taking him ahead of the great Michael Hughes in the all-time list.

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