Belfast Telegraph

Steven Davis: Humble, under-rated, talisman: Northern Ireland stars salute captain

The 32 year-old is set to earn his 100th cap. What do his team-mates and manager think of him?

Captain Steven Davis will become the third Northern Irishman to win 100 caps on Thursday when he leads them out against Switzerland in the first leg of their World Cup play-off.

Southampton midfielder Davis, 32, will follow in the footsteps of Pat Jennings (119 caps) and Aaron Hughes (104 caps) at Windsor Park.

Davis' international manager and team-mates have paid tribute to their skipper ahead of the milestone. Here's what they had to say:

Manager Michael O'Neill

"It's a great honour for him. I feel quite privileged as a manager to be able to give him that 100th cap. When I came in I felt it was the right time for him to captain the team. He's done fantastically for me. He's missed two games in that period, both through injury. He's a very humble person, he's got time for everyone but has a great inner strength as well. Steven's a captain that leads by example, takes care of everyone in the group and on the pitch takes enormous responsibility."

Michael O’Neill and Steven Davis are all smiles after the win against the Czech Republic in September.

Defender Jonny Evans

"He's such a good player, really under-rated. I feel we all feel that within the squad - how good he is. He brings a real maturity to our team. His performances over the last couple of years have been outstanding. I always remember coming into the squad 10, 11 years ago and every game Davo gets man of the match. He's just that type of player."

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Jonny Evans, left, and Steven Davis

Forward Jamie Ward

"As a leader, he's brilliant and obviously as a player, he's very good. His career speaks for itself. He has worked hard for it. He's obviously always wanted to play for Northern Ireland from a young age, so it's a big bonus for him. We were at Aston Villa together - Davo was a year above me from when I left school - we had a few years together and you could see he had talent. It's a great achievement and he'll go on and get many more caps."

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Midfielder Paddy McNair

"He's been great ever since I've come into the squad. He's a brilliant player, deserves 100 caps and I'm sure he'll get a lot more. He's been a big part of why we're doing so well. All the players know how good he is. Maybe sometimes fans just look at a Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi, but all the players know how good he is."

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All smiles: Paddy McNair trains with Steven Davis, who he used to cheer on

Forward Josh Magennis

"He's our talisman. In the future, people will talk about him being one of the greats. He's been so consistent for such a long time. It's great for me to be able to say I've played with such a player. His attitude is superb on and off the pitch. He's somebody I've gone to for advice, even about things that have nothing to do with football, he's always there for a phone call. He tells you what you need to hear. I pick his brains as much as possible because I can learn so much from him. He's been such a good player for this country. You won't really realise his impact until he retires. Hopefully he doesn't retire. Hopefully, he's a Benjamin Button and he stays around for years to come."

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Northern Ireland goal heroes Steven Davis and Josh Magennis at the final whistle after defeating San Marino 0-3 in September. Photo by William Cherry/Presseye


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