St Mirren boss Stephen Robinson has revealed he was desperate to sign Steven Davis when speculation raged about the Northern Ireland skipper’s future before it was announced that he had agreed a new one-year deal to stay at Rangers.
In the final weeks of last season, St Mirren were linked with a move for the midfielder who has 138 caps with Robinson well aware of the qualities the former Southampton star brings having worked with Davis at international level as an influential coach in Michael O’Neill’s backroom staff.
It wasn’t to be with Rangers extending the 37-year-old’s stay at Ibrox.
“I was desperate to sign him,” Robinson told the Belfast Telegraph when asked about Davis.
He added with a smile: “I was hoping he wouldn’t get another deal.”
Robinson continued: “There were a lot of rumours that he was coming to St Mirren. I texted him to say, ‘Is there any truth in it that you are interested?’ but he had already signed a contract with Rangers and I wasn’t surprised by that.
“Steven is a top-class person and a top-class professional and you don’t get as many caps as he has without being a fantastic player. The word ‘legend’ is thrown out too freely in the game these days but for me he is a true football legend.
“Watching Davo play and being able to coach him with Northern Ireland was a privilege for me and I believe if all players had his attitude, willingness to learn and professionalism then management would be a lot easier.”
Robinson will face Davis and Rangers on October 8 in the Scottish Premiership and a week later takes on another ex-Northern Ireland colleague in Kyle Lafferty, who will lead the line for promoted Kilmarnock.
“It’s good to see Kyle back in the Scottish Premiership and in the Northern Ireland squad,” said the St Mirren supremo.
“He has been scoring goals regularly for Kilmarnock and Laff is a brilliant boy. I hope he doesn’t do it against us this season but when he is playing for Northern Ireland I want to see him do really well.”
Admired and respected by the Northern Ireland players during his coaching stint with the national team, Robinson kept a watching brief on the side’s hugely disappointing Nations League quadruple-header earlier this month when manager Ian Baraclough and the team failed to register a victory.
“I’m a Northern Ireland fan and watch all the games. I want the team to win every single match,” said Robinson. “It’s been a tough run. Michael had a tough run too when he came in but we’ve got the players to go and be more successful.
“Ian knows he has to get results. I’m desperate for Northern Ireland to do well.”
Robinson was a contender to replace O’Neill when he left for Stoke in 2020 only to be beaten to the role by Baraclough.
Would the ex-Motherwell boss be keen to manage his country in the future?
“Never say never. I interviewed for it once and didn’t get it. Obviously the powers that be didn’t think it was my time but you get on with your job at club level which I’m very very happy with,” said Robinson.
“I have a great opportunity at St Mirren and have no desire to be in that position at this moment in time but who knows what is down the line.”