While most of the England players trudged off the Wembley turf disappointed after failing to break down a resolute Montenegro side in yesterday's UEFA EURO 2012 qualifier, with boos ringing in their ears, Kevin Davies could be forgiven for smiling in self-satisfaction. After over 500 club appearances in a 17-year club career, the Bolton Wanderers striker finally realised his international dream.
Before the game, the Yorkshireman told the media that his wife wept for joy after learning of his call-up, which he thought was a joke until the the Football Association (FA) publically announced the news. But the biggest surprise to Davies was playing 20 minutes of a match in which he almost created a goal for Wayne Rooney and earned himself a booking for shielding the ball away from Miodrag Dzudovic.
“There were a few shouts as I was warming up calling for me to get on, and I wanted to go on and win the game, so I’m disappointed I didn’t manage to do that really,” he told FIFA.com post-match. "But at the same time it felt great to run on there and play for England - it was an amazing feeling.
“It’ll be a nice drive home for me with the family, even though we haven’t won the game. I’m proud to have got the cap, and I don’t want to be one of those players who stays on one cap. Since I’ve been here I’ve been working extremely hard to try and make an impression on the manager, and now I’ll go back to Bolton and keep doing what I’ve been doing for them for seven or eight years and hopefully that’ll be enough to get me back in the squad.”
I’m proud to have got the cap, and I don’t want to be one of those players who stays on one cap. The evening has done wonders for my confidence.
When he came on to replace Peter Crouch, the 33-year-old became England’s oldest debutant since Leslie Compton, the former Arsenal defender, who was 38 years and 64 days old when he turned out for the Three Lions against Wales in November 1950.
“I was aware of it,” Davies revealed, laughing. “It’s one of those stats and I never thought this was going to come. I’m extremely proud for myself and the family, although maybe not for the booking! But that all said, the evening has done wonders for my confidence and I can’t wait to get back to Bolton and work hard to prepare for Saturday’s game.”
The appearance lifted the spirits of his club manager Owen Coyle, who has been championing the cause of the former Blackburn Rovers and Southampton man since his arrival at the Reebok Stadium.
"To get that call-up for his country, which I know means an awful lot to him, has been earned through the quality of his play and we are absolutely thrilled for him," he said. "No-one has given it him easy, he has had to work his socks off against some terrific centre-backs in the best league in the world.
"One thing we all ask in football is if you get an opportunity, you have to go and grasp it, and he has earned the opportunity. Whether you decide to play one, two or three up front Kevin has a tremendous role to play for anyone. As a former striker myself, I would have loved to have played with that type of player.”