Another shot at glory

Published : Apr 18, 2015 00:00 IST

First-team appearances have been few and far between for the veteran Kelvin Davis in the Southampton goal. But a freak injury to Fraser Forster enabled the veteran goalkeeper to step into the spotlight for the remaining games of the campaign as Saints chase an unlikely place in Europe next season. By Matthew Smith.

Kelvin Davis could have been forgiven for thinking he would never play in the Premier League again but a long-term injury to Southampton team-mate Fraser Forster meant the veteran goalkeeper was back in the spotlight.

Forster has been one of the stars of the season for high-flying Saints with more clean sheets than any other Premier League goalkeeper, so it is understandable that 38-year-old Davis has not had a look-in.

That changed though after Forster suffered a freak injury while clearing the ball during Southampton’s 2-0 home win over Burnley, and Davis is stepping into the spotlight for the remaining games of the campaign as Saints chase an unlikely place in Europe next season.

After years of playing at all levels, Davis admits it is still “a special moment” to step onto the home pitch and hear the fans roaring their support, as much as it was when he made his debut for Torquay United in 1994.

“Stepping on to the pitch and hearing the fans was a special moment, and some memories came flooding back of when I was doing it week in, week out a few years ago,” said Davis after coming on as a substitute against Burnley.

Born in Bedford and a trainee at Luton Town, Davis was loaned out to Torquay in September 1994, two months after turning professional. He then returned to Luton and went on to establish himself as first choice at the club, playing 91 league games in the third tier.

His performances were good enough to catch the eye of new Wimbledon manager Egil Olsen, and in 1999 Davis made the step up to the Premier League as second choice for “the Crazy Gang”.

The dream move turned sour soon, though, as Wimbledon were relegated the following summer for the first time in 14 years. Davis became first choice after the drop to Division One and established himself well over the following three seasons, making 131 league appearances.

With Wimbledon failing to reach the play-offs and gradually sliding towards financial oblivion, Davis left the club in 2003 on a free transfer to Ipswich where he had contrasting fortunes.

The first season saw Ipswich finish fifth in the league, qualifying for the play-offs that had eluded his former club, although Davis’ performances were called into question. Ipswich conceded 72 goals in 46 league games, the third worst record in the division, and they were beaten 2-1 on aggregate by West Ham in the play-offs despite winning the first leg.

The following season was much the same for Ipswich — after finishing third, they failed in the play-offs after a second successive defeat by West Ham. This time, however, Davis was named as the division's goalkeeper of the year and in the summer was signed as newly-promoted Sunderland’s first-choice keeper, meaning he would finally have a shot at the big time.

His Premier League debut came at Charlton, where Sunderland suffered a 3-1 defeat which set the tone for what was — at the time — the worst Premier League season ever.

Sunderland managed just three league wins all season, ending with a meagre 15 points, and Davis was dropped for five matches in favour of 18-year-old Ben Alnwick.

He came under fire from his own fans, including when he was beaten from 45 yards by Portsmouth’s Matthew Taylor.

Davis, looking to rebuild his damaged reputation, then joined Southampton in a GBP2million deal and has since played over 260 games over nine years and three different divisions of English football.

First choice for much of the club’s time in the lower divisions, he has remained a fans’ favourite, being named player of the month three times in five months during their poor start to the 2007/08 season.

Saints slipped into League One after going into administration in 2009 but Davis remained loyal and turned down a move to West Ham. It proved a wise decision and, in League One, Davis was twice named in the Team of the Year.

He also won his only piece of silverware in the Football League Trophy before Saints shot back into the Premier League via successive promotions between 2010 and 2012.

Back in the Premier League, Davis was involved in a three-way tussle for the number one jersey and first-team appearances have been few and far between but Forster’s injury has given him one more chance to shine.

He is married to Kelly Davis, with whom he has two children, Sonnie and Emelia.

FACTFILEName: Kelvin DavisPosition: GoalkeeperClub: SouthamptonD.O.B: 29/09/1976

Moment to remember: Winning promotion to the Premier League with Southampton in May 2012, having played all but one League game.

Moment to forget: Being dropped by rock-bottom Sunderland in November 2005 for an 18-year-old after a string of poor performances.

© PA Sport

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