Known across the world for his tough-tackling style, iconic looks and that skillful left foot, Edgar Davids came to be one of the driving forces behind one of the most talented generations in Dutch football history. After helping the Netherlands reach the semi-finals of the 1998 FIFA World Cup France™ and the same stage at UEFA EURO 2000 on home soil, the defensive midfielder who shot to prominence at the famed Ajax youth academy was in Qatar recently to take a look at the country’s youth development setup at Aspire Academy.
With Qatar’s senior side showing a fine recent vein of form following successive 1-0 victories over Algeria and Slovenia during the recent international week, and the country's U-20 team headed for the FIFA U-20 World Cup New Zealand 2015 this summer as Asian champions, there is a real sense of optimism surrounding the country’s football development.
Looking back at his own experiences playing in front of an expectant home crowd 15 years ago, Davids told www.sc.qa: “We felt a lot of pressure. We did well but we came up short in the semi-finals against Italy. If you look back at Brazil, the team had so much pressure that they couldn’t cope with it. I hope Qatar will do better. The other side is that if you really have the home nation behind you and you’re doing well, it can be almost unstoppable.”
Every aspiring football player wants to win the World Cup. That is the big dream.
Having also toured the offices of the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) to take a look at the progress as Qatar prepares to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup™, Davids added that the facilities on offer and the compact tournament concept would benefit visiting fans and players: “It looks very promising, it is state-of-the-art, a lot of fans will be delighted to enter the stadiums. I think a great World Cup for players relies on excellent organisation; accommodation, travel time to the stadiums. That also leads to the best performances on the pitch.”
Davids, who is currently a consultant on street soccer projects and has his own fashion business, said that the tournament would provide a real sense of motivation to the young players he had seen: “The visit to the Aspire Academy has been inspiring. Every aspiring football player wants to win the World Cup. That is the big dream.”
He concluded: “Before a tournament there are always so many stories, negative, positive, whatever. But at the end of the day, when people arrive, there is always a buzz and people are happy to come here. The best thing you can do in Qatar is to make it as comfortable as possible, something which is normal anyway in this region. So there will not be any problem. The quality of games is something that is difficult to predict, but the best thing you can do is make it a big party.”