Rangers midfielder Steven Davis on cusp of breaking long-standing record
Rangers midfielder Steven Davis is renowned as one of the most unassuming footballers in the professional game.
But the 35-year-old is now coming to terms with the scale of his achievement as he stands on the verge of becoming Northern Ireland’s most-capped player.
When Davis leads his country into their Euro 2020 play-off semi-final against Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo on Thursday night, making his 120th appearance on the international stage, he will eclipse the record of legendary goalkeeper Pat Jennings which he equalled last month.
“It is a massive milestone for me,” said Davis. “I’ve probably downplayed it a little in the past but that’s just in my nature and the way football is.
“You try to concentrate on one game at a time without looking too far ahead.
“Straight after the whistle you think about the next game and try not to dwell too much on things that have gone.
“But having come back from the last trip and having so many messages about equalling Pat’s record, it has given me time to sit back and realise what an incredible achievement it is.”
Assuming he remains fit and healthy, Davis is firmly on course to become the most-capped player in the history of British international football. He will draw level with second-placed Wayne Rooney on 120 caps if he plays on Thursday, leaving him just five behind another former England star, the all-time record holder Peter Shilton.
“It does take a lot of hard work and sacrifice to get to this stage but it is an incredible achievement to get to this point and it’s a great game to mark the milestone hopefully,” added Davis.
“However, come Thursday the caps side of things will not be in my mind - it's all about the game. It’s an important game and one we have been waiting for for quite a while.”
The winner of Thursday’s match - originally due to have been played in March before the Covid-19 crisis struck football - will face either Slovakia or the Republic of Ireland next month for a place at the rearranged Euro 2020 finals next summer.
Northern Ireland will need a change of fortune after their last outing ended in a 5-1 home defeat to a ruthless Norway side, but much of the poor performance has been put down to a lack of fitness in the group, with many players still in their pre-seasons.
“We’ve built our success on being an energetic team and getting in people’s faces but those two games were difficult because of where the group was at,” Davis said.
“Obviously a lot of football has been played in a short space of time since then and a big part of our game will hopefully be back to what it should be.
"It's a great opportunity for us but it's going to be a difficult as Bosnia have some top quality players.
"It's important we have that clarity in how we are gong to play as a team and realise we are going to have to put in a monumental effort.
"I believe we have the qualities to get through and a win would definitely be up there with some of the best results we've had. We can go out there and get ourselves through to the final."
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