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Davis living out his Rangers fantasy


Muff

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FROM the earliest moments of his footballing life in the tiny County Antrim village of Cullybackey, playing for Rangers in an Old Firm cup final was the leading fantasy played out in the mind of Steven Davis.

The Northern Ireland international midfielder will finally realise that ambition on Sunday, almost ten years after he allowed his head to rule his heart and turned down his first opportunity to join the Ibrox club.

As a 14-year-old schoolboy, Davis spent time on trial with Rangers and was given tickets to attend the 1999 Scottish Cup final when Rod Wallace scored the only goal of the game against Celtic at Hampden.

While that experience rein-forced his affection for Rangers, Davis declined a subsequent offer to sign for the team he had supported since childhood. A change in the youth coaching set-up at the club, with manager Dick Advocaat recruiting his fellow Dutchman Jan Derks to head the operation, persuaded Davis and his family that his future lay elsewhere.

Davis has no regrets over the decision to join Aston Villa instead, content in a career path which has finally seen him arrive at Rangers on the back of his successful loan spell last season.

"When Rangers offered me a contract back when I was a kid, Aston Villa put one on the table at the same time. I actually wanted to sign for Rangers immediately and that would have been the easiest decision for me to make emotionally.

"It was my Mum who told me to think about it for a few weeks. She said that if I still felt it was the right decision, then I could sign for Rangers. But a few things changed at Rangers and I ended up signing for Villa.

"John Chalmers was the Rangers youth coach who brought me over to the club. Dick Advocaat then brought in a Dutch youth development officer at the time which changed the perspective for me.

"I just felt I would probably get a better chance of first-team football at Villa. At that time, Rangers and Celtic were spending loads of money on foreign players, while Villa were looking to bring younger players through the ranks.

"It was a tough choice at the time, but my family were all behind me. They appreciated it was right to go to the club where I would have the best chance of getting into the first team. Looking back, it was the right decision. I feel it has all worked out for the best now.

"I always wanted to play for Rangers and luckily enough it happened when I came on loan last season. Even then, I didn't expect it to work out that I would stay, so it's been great for me."

Davis already has a League Cup winners' medal in his possession, having played in last year's final against Dundee United, but says it would mean even more to lift the trophy against Celtic. "It's something I definitely dreamed about when I was growing up as a Rangers supporter," he added. "To play in any cup final for Rangers is a special occasion, but it's definitely got something extra when it is the first Old Firm cup final for a number of years.

"When I was on trial at Rangers as a boy, I was fortunate enough to get taken along to that 1999 Scottish Cup final. I went with my brother and it was a great experience.

"Rod Wallace scored a lot of goals at that time and he was a player I really liked as a fan. I can remember Rangers winning it, and then going back to Ibrox afterwards with the cup for the celebrations. We were taken up to the suite where the players were and it was an amazing experience for me.

"I need to have a different perspective on it now, because I have to be much calmer on the day than I would be as a fan watching the game. Even getting the chance to play for Rangers is a massive thing for me. I'm always proud to pull on the jersey and, as a Rangers fan, there is obviously no bigger game to do that for than an Old Firm game.

"Every Old Firm game I've played in so far has been unique, you are never sure what is going to happen. Both teams will be desperate to win and hopefully it will also be a good footballing spectacle."

Davis, who says he has been fielding countless ticket requests this week from family, friends and international team-mates such as David Healy, insists Rangers are treating Sunday's game in isolation and attempting to ignore the prospect of completing the first leg of a potential domestic treble this season.

"There are still a lot of games to be played and it's not something the players are thinking about just yet," he said. "This Sunday is the most important thing for us at the moment. But we said at the start of the season, after the European defeat, that we had to concentrate on all the domestic trophies and so far we have been able to do that."

Events this week suggest another Northern Ireland international, Kyle Lafferty, is likely to lead the line for Rangers on Sunday and Davis is confident his compatriot could be a match- winner.

"Kyle's two goals last Sunday against Hamilton will give the manager another little headache," he added. "No matter who plays up front, they are capable of doing the job. Kyle has always said centre-forward is his preferred position, but he has had to do a job for the team on the left at times. He has shown recently what he can do and there is still a lot more to come from him."

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Been too inconsistent this season, his ability can't be doubted but his form simply must improve.

He's one of the players that you can't drop though.

5 goals and 15 assists in an inconsistent season, pretty decent.

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Been too inconsistent this season, his ability can't be doubted but his form simply must improve.

He's one of the players that you can't drop though.

5 goals and 15 assists in an inconsistent season, pretty decent.

and played out of position

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Been too inconsistent this season, his ability can't be doubted but his form simply must improve.

He's one of the players that you can't drop though.

5 goals and 15 assists in an inconsistent season, pretty decent.

I wouldn't drop him especially since we have very little alternative to him, but i do think his displays must improve.

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luckily for us, davis has barely hid from celtic in an old firm game, hes always got stuck in and gave 110%, lets hope he puts that shocker against inverness behind him and gets tore into celtic at the weekend, because we will need him to be on top game

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I think that Davis has been great on the right, he's not an out and out winger, but he's very industrious and smart with possession. When he plays well, Rangers usually turn in a great performance.

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