Belfast Telegraph

Ward and Magennis heap praise on centurion Davis

By Graham Luney

Northern Ireland skipper Steven Davis has understandably attempted to steer the spotlight away from himself as he earns his 100th cap tonight, but there's no escaping the fitting tributes that are coming his way.

Only Pat Jennings (119) and Aaron Hughes (108) have passed the century mark in this part of the world, but the Southampton ace, widely acknowledged as a true Northern Ireland great, is about to join that prestigious club.

Humble and modest, Davis gets his kicks not from personal tributes but team accomplishments when he's wearing his national jersey, complete with captain's armband.

These two World Cup play-off battles with Switzerland, the first one at Windsor Park tonight, are his primary focus, but he will still be showered with praise for reaching this magnificent milestone.

His team-mates know more than most what a classy operator the 32-year-old is on and off the pitch and they are happy to pay tribute to a natural leader who helped write the Euro 2016 fairytale.

Forward Jamie Ward said: "As a leader he's brilliant, and obviously as a player he's very good. His career speaks for itself.

"Congratulations to him because 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. Hopefully on the night we can make it a special occasion for him as a group of players.

"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. It's a great record."

Charlton striker Josh Magennis said the Cullybackey man talks as well as he plays.

"Winning 100 caps is phenomenal," he said. "Making 100 appearances at club level would be amazing, but to do it for your country, and especially being the talisman he is, is brilliant.

"People will be talking about him in the future as one of the greats. He has been so consistent, and I get to say I played alongside him. From top to bottom, his attitude is second to none, on and off the pitch.

"A couple of times I've called him for advice and he tells me what I need to hear. I will speak to him as much as I can to pick his brains. You won't really realise how good he is until he has retired."

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