england beckons for davids

Linda Moreotsene

For someone who left these shores at 14, Lance Davids has done a remarkable job of stamping himself on the South African soccer supporters' psyche.

The Bafana Bafana midfielder featured prominently in the national team's pulsating 3-0 performance against Paraguay recently.

He again displayed the hard-tackling, committed brand of play that has endeared him to his admirers here and abroad, including being on the radar of English Premiership sides Blackburn and Newcastle United.

Davids, for all his impressive work overseas, is a professional, answering a variety of questions ranging from his time at TSV 1860 Munich of Germany, his frequent clash with referees, and how he honed his skills to be this versatile.

Now based in the Swedish capital of Stockholm at Djugardens, Davids operates at right back - a position he says he had to fill when the regular holder was suspended.

He displayed, at Super Stadium, a great first touch, ability to attack and defend when the team needed him to, and sound passing ability.

"That game served to motivate the coach, the players and the country. After the Africa Cup of Nations debacle, it could not have happened at a better time. Beating a team ranked 26th in the world showed the country that we can compete with the best."

Davids had to leave the field when he hurt his knee - a much more acceptable reason for leaving the park, unlike when he was shown a red card in one of the Nations Cup matches.

"It's not fun and games when you are fighting for your country, and that is not an exaggeration. My time as the national Under-23 captain taught me that. So, yes I agree I am a hard player, I will not pull away from a tackle. So I do collect cards regularly," he said.

Davids is confident that he is carving a niche for himself within the nucleus of Parreira's team.

"I think if I continue the way I have, the coach will not regret having given me a chance," he said.

Tied into all this is his desire to grow his career further, and Davids has faith that, come June, he could bid Scandinavia goodbye and head for England and greener pastures.

He then reflects on what it took him to be at this level at 22, starting with leaving the family bosom at the young age of 14.

"I gave up my childhood - leaving the country that young - but always had to keep my eye on the ball.

"At that age, you are homesick all the time and just a kid, really. When I got to Germany, simply getting game time was a struggle. I had to adapt fast. I left as one of the biggest talents in the country, but when I got there I had to start from scratch.

"At one point I was a striker, which shows you how fierce competition for places can get. I think, all in all, I've been very lucky in my career, with injuries and all but I still have a lot that I want to achieve."