Little was expected of Steven Davis following his return to English football in the summer of 2012.
Amidst a financial crisis at Rangers, the midfielder completed a switch to Southampton for a fee well below £1 million after the club had secured promotion back to the Premier League under Nigel Adkins.
Many perceived this acquisition to be one of shrewd nature; Davis was understood to be a solid, risk-free signing who would provide the Saints with much-needed experience and leadership – a solid if unspectacular player.
What Southampton received from the Northern Ireland international resembled far more than just a bargain buy, however. Davis went on to serve the club for six-and-a-half years, helping them in their rise to prominence and consecutive, record-breaking Premier League finishes.
The 34-year-old quickly went from an unsung hero to a fans’ favourite at St Mary’s Stadium, but coverage from the mainstream never truly did justice to one of the league’s most underrated players of the last decade.
This lack of widespread appraisal and acclaim won’t have bothered Davis, though. A model professional, he went about his business quietly and efficiently, both on and off the pitch.
Although the final two years of his tenure on the south coast were not necessarily successful for the veteran midfielder, only the good times will be remembered and rightly so.
The term ‘legend’ is thrown around all too freely in football nowadays but few Southampton players in recent years deserve this affectionate title more than Davis does following his commitment, dedication and sterling work for the club.
From his debut strike away at Manchester City to his pivotal brace as Southampton left their mark at White Hart Lane to all but secure European football for the 2016/17 season, the former club captain was integral to the period of success that was enjoyed and basked in by so many.
After 226 appearances, 14 goals, European football and a cup final, it’s time to bid a fond farewell to Steven Davis, an understated genius and a manager’s dream.
All the best back at Ibrox, Davo.