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Kevin Davies
  1. Football
  2. Premier League

Premier League Cult Icons: Kevin Davies

Hailed by Rio Ferdinand as one of his toughest opponents and labelled a bully by Sir Alex Ferguson, Kevin Davies wreaked havoc on Premier League defenders during a glittering decade with Bolton Wanderers.

At a stage when Davies' Premier League career was seemingly numbered after an unfruitful spell with Southampton, Sam Allardyce picked up the striker on a free transfer and his gamble paid dividends.

Davies was an instrumental figure in Bolton's glory years of the early 2000s. In the days of Jay-Jay Okocha and Stelios Giannakopoulos, the Trotters recorded four consecutive top-half finishes and ventured into Europe with Davies spearing the attack.

Davies' physicality epitomised Bolton's abrasive and direct style that the Premier League's elite despised. Arsene Wenger's Arsenal feared him, Jose Mourinho's Chelsea struggled to contain him and whether Davies' style antagonised you or excited you, Bolton's success was a reminder of how territorial football could still be extremely effective. 

Kevin Davies In Profile

Place of BirthSheffield, England
Premier League club(s)Bolton, Blackburn, Southampton
Premier League appearances442
Premier League goals87
Premier League assists45
International caps1
Other notable clubsChesterfield, Preston

Journey into football

Joining his boyhood club Sheffield United as a schoolboy, Davies' path into professional football may not have played out how he envisioned.

Released by the Blades at 15, it was Chesterfield that came to his rescue when they offered Davies a trial.

The forward succeeded, joining the club as a trainee but it was only a matter of months before he had forged his way into John Duncan's reckoning in the first team.

Aged 16 years and 180 days, Davies made his first-team debut in a League Cup tie against West Ham and in doing so, became Chesterfield's second youngest appearance maker. Within seven months he was a regular feature for Duncan in the third division and had signed his first professional contract.

Teenage Davies was not the same brute who was consistently embroiled in a physical battle with a centre-half in the Premier League. Predominantly operating from the flank, he would run opposition defences ragged with skill and precision; qualities that attracted the attention of Southampton boss Graeme Souness.

Davies thrived at The Dell and within a year, Blackburn Rovers had stumped up £7.5million for his signature. It was an expensive price tag that wore heavy on his shoulders and within a year he was back on the Hampshire coast, although his return to Southampton failed to match the heights of his previous stint.

Released in the summer of 2003, Sam Allardyce and Bolton Wanderers came calling. It was the perfect fit.

Style of play

Combative, aggressive and an all-round nuisance, Davies' physical style is of a dying breed in the English top flight.

Football is an art and every so often you will find yourself captivated by a hideous display; Davies wasn't one to charm spectators but he was definitely effective.

Until 2016 when Gareth Barry claimed the record, no player had committed more fouls in the Premier League than Davies; at one stage he was even the most fouled player in the division. His ability to win cheap free-kicks was a key element to Bolton's attacking blueprint, enabling them to showcase their set-piece threat.

His consistent conflicts with central defenders was adored by supporters and unwelcomed by opposition managers. He was Allardyce's battering ram, holding off defenders with his domineering strength and providing Bolton with a direct outlet.

Deemed more a creator than goalscorer, Davies wasn't prolific. The most goals he scored in a single Premier League season was 11, and yet he had a knack of rippling the back of the net at crucial moments.

Bolton Wanderers legacy

Davies is hailed as a club legend down Burnden Way.

The striker played a pivotal role in Bolton's run to the League Cup final in 2003/04 and was equally important when Allardyce's men achieved a sixth-place finish in the following campaign.

Of the 84 goals he scored for the club, his strike against Bayern Munich in the UEFA Cup is revered to this day, helping Bolton achieve one of their greatest results with a 2-2 draw at the Allianz Arena.

Davies was named captain of the club in 2009 following the departure of Kevin Nolan and he remained skipper until his release in the summer of 2013.

He had previously stated his desire to finish his career at Bolton and while his acrimonious departure may not have been how he envisaged leaving the club, Davies will forever be cherished by Wanderers supporters for his contributions to a glittering era.

Biggest career achievement

Despite recording play-off successes with Chesterfield and Preston North End at opposite ends of his career, Davies never got his hands on a major piece of silverware.

He came within touching distance on two occasions, with Southampton finishing runners-up in the 2002/03 FA Cup before Bolton suffered League Cup final heartbreak against Middlesbrough at the Millennium Stadium a year later.

His proudest moment came at Wembley in 2010 when Fabio Capello introduced Davies as a second half substitute in England's European Championship qualifier against Montenegro, his one and only international cap.

At club level, Davies was named Bolton's Player of the Year across three different seasons, including his debut campaign in 2003/04.

Did you know?

Davies accumulated more yellow cards (99) than goals scored (87) in the Premier League.

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