Steven Davis made his professional debut for Aston Villa at the age of 19 in 2004. In 2022, this Northern Ireland sporting icon is still going strong and setting his sights on more glory with Rangers.
Next weekend will see Davis kick-off his 19th season in top-flight football when the Glasgow giants travel to Livingston for the start of the Scottish Premiership with memories of last term’s extraordinary finish still fresh in the mind.
Rangers had lost their League title to Celtic. Then, in the space of four days in May, they were unlucky to be defeated on penalties by Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League decider before bouncing back to beat Hearts in the Scottish Cup Final with Davis showing his class in both contests.
Now the 37-year-old midfielder is ready to go again with domestic success and qualifying for the Champions League group stages on the wish list, with Rangers facing Belgian side Union Saint-Gilloise in the third qualifying round next month.
“I’m really looking forward to this season,” said Davis, speaking to Sunday Life Sport.
“Last season was a bit of a rollercoaster and with everything that came with it I think it was really important for us as a group to win the Scottish Cup and make sure we had something to show for our efforts.
“At the start of every season you set out to try and improve on what you did the previous season. In the League that was always going to be difficult in terms of having an invincible season and how we won the League in 2021 and we didn’t quite find the consistency that was needed.
“In Europe we wanted to progress and make sure we were still involved after Christmas and then things snowballed from there with us beating some really good opposition with really good performances to reach the Final.
“It showed the level we are capable of playing at and the results we are capable of achieving and the quality within the team.
“Now we will be trying to find consistency over the course of the season. Reaching the Champions League group stages is a big goal for us. That would be a big achievement for everyone and obviously domestically we will be trying to do well in the Cups again and the League has to be a priority for us, as always.
“We are realistic to know over the course of the season you can’t afford to drop too many points and we had too many games in a spell after Christmas when we dropped unnecessary points with too many draws and that had an effect. Celtic showed a consistency that we didn’t in that period and then you are trying to push against it.
“It is important we get off to a good start to the season and show a strong consistency level. We believe we have the squad capable of getting our hands back on the trophy and everyone will be very determined to bring it back to Ibrox again. We are positive about the new season and can’t wait to get going.”
Inspirational during the invincible 2020/21 title-winning campaign under Steven Gerrard, Davis, for the first time in his two successful spells at the club, wasn’t a regular last term after Gio van Bronckhorst took over as manager, though he did return to action late on, having a telling influence on the side.
The former Villa, Fulham and Southampton star said: “Last season was a little bit frustrating when I picked up a couple of niggly injuries and Covid as well.
“I was out of the side and when I came back with the team playing well it was difficult to get back in but I always felt I could make an impact and I believe in the quality that I’ve got and thankfully I got the opportunity to do that towards the end of the season.”
When fellow players and managers talk about Davis, words like ‘composed, calm and classy’ are often used. Durable should be added to that list.
On his remarkable longevity, Davis said: “I have been fortunate not having any major injuries. I try to look after myself in the best way. I am still feeling good, fit and strong and still feel I have a big role to play at the club and I’m excited for the new season.”