The former Southampton boss insists that his former player possesses a game intelligence to some of football’s all-time greats
Mauricio Pochettino has likened Rangers’ Steven Davis to Barcelona legends Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta, praising the midfielder as he prepares to become Northern Ireland’s most-capped player in history.
Davis will don the captain’s armband for his country on Thursday as they travel to Sarajevo to face Bosnia and Herzegovina for a European Championship play-off, during which he will surpass countryman Pat Jennings in the appearance charts with 120 caps.
Now 35 years old and entering the latter years of his career, Davis’ old Southampton boss has likened him to two of football’s most heralded midfielders of all time.
“The talent of him I compare to football people like Xavi and [Andres] Iniesta,” Pochettino said of the three-time Scottish Premier League winner in an interview with Sky Sports.
“You put him in the same level as this type of player because of this capacity to play football, be a playmaker, the intelligence to read the game, his capacity to run. I think to compare Christian Eriksen to this type of player too, they make your team better.
“I remember how the people love ‘Davo’. We were in Catalonia doing pre-season, we were doing a session in the afternoon in the room with a coach doing different things. He needed to go to the toilet.
“The moment he arrived back we were all very serious, then all the players and staff started to run towards him and start to celebrate. It was an unbelievable experience because it showed how the players loved him.
“I think how humble he is, that it is the most you can appreciate in a professional. He is a simple guy, a family guy, a good friend and we feel very proud and lucky to have spent time with him. He is a big player and a big person.”
Club boss Steven Gerrard was similarly glowing in his appraisal of his player, adding that he never enjoyed playing against him when Davis faced Liverpool.
“He’s special,” the ex-Reds skipper said. “He’s a student of the game, you can see how he takes on information. Managers trust him and he’s born with a special talent.
“I didn’t really have good memories with him because he was always a pest to play against, he was a very fit individual who would never go away no matter what the scoreline was.”