After a long 22 years in the game, Bolton Wanderers legend Kevin Davies decided to call it a day last Friday, hanging up his boots after wearing them on the pitch over 700 times. He made his first professional appearance at the age of 16 at Saltergate. He made his finally ever appearance at the ripe old age of 38, at the most fitting of stages - Wembley.
With a career spanning over two decades, Davies created a lot of unforgettable moments in his time. Now, obviously these are more than likely going to be Wanderers centric, but here are the top ten moments of Kevin Davies' (BWFC) career:
10) His home debut
As I was late to supporting Bolton, I wasn't actually around for SKD's first ever appearance at the Reebok Stadium, however, I'm told by my trusted older colleagues at LoVS that he made an instant impact. The signing of Davies was quite low key, a free transfer from Southampton after a career that, despite once holding untold amounts of promise, had not lived up to the hype at that point. But after just being on the Reebok pitch for a few minutes, it was clear he was going to go on to be a Wanderers great. To quote LoVS' Chris Manning:
" when he won his first header. From then I knew he was a goodun"
Davies scored on his first appearance at the Reebok, running on to Youri Djorkaeff's through ball and slamming home from six yards, against his former club Blackburn Rovers. Although, in typical Bolton fashion, the Whites went on to throw away a two goal lead against ten man Blackburn, it was clear that a soon to be legend had found his home.
9) His final goodbye
This isn't exactly the nicest of moments, and definitely not a highlight, but it's an emotional moment that definitely deserves a mention. It was a moment of very mixed emotions, Bolton had just missed out on the play offs on goal difference in a 2-2 draw with Blackpool, and Davies wasn't even in the squad. But he didn't moan, he didn't whine, and when the final whistle blew he led his team around the Reebok Stadium, said good bye to the Wanderers fans, one last time. It was a really bittersweet moment, but the fact that he actually got to say goodbye properly, when so many other legends down the years weren't able, is something we should all be grateful for.
8) The tackle on Kolarov
Weird that this moment is quite low on the list, considering it's the single greatest moment in football history. The game against Manchester City had literally just kicked off. The ball was played back to City left back Alexander Kolarov, who never saw the steam train that is Kevin Davies smash into him and win the ball. The game was 13 seconds old. However, in this case, pictures are far better than words.
7) Davies vs. Evra
With Davies somewhat robust playing style, he had many battles in his time in a white shirt. That led to many a top team manager crying into the microphone as they complained about Davies 'dirty' tactics, failing to realise that they'd just signed a bunch of pussies to play in defence for them. One run in with a manager I remember particularly well was when Alex Ferguson slated Davies quite extensively, all because he broke a few of Tom Cleverly's bones. Davies was only doing Sir Alex a favour. Also coming against Manchester United was one of Davies' most memorable battles. He landed a heavy tackle on Frenchman Patrice Evra, earning his 100th yellow card in the process, and the left back complained quite a bit. So Davies stuck on him all game making his life a living misery. When Evra asked him "why?" Davies simply replied: "I just don't like you."
6) Dislocating his finger and carrying on
Whilst not as epic and history making as some moments that are to come, it certainly sums up Davies as a player and a character wonderfully. In a game against West Ham United, Davies pretty brutally dislocated his finger. Pictures will prove that is was literally bending in the wrong direction. However, it would take more than that to stop him. He got the medical team to pop it back into place then got straight back on with it. He scored the winner that game. He even used is as an excuse to flip off Rob Green, too.
5) League Cup final goal
It's pretty safe to say that Davies never got the best of luck in any game that included the word 'final' in it, during his time at the Reebok Stadium. The embarrassment that was Wembley and, of course, the 2004 League Cup Final, against Middlesbrough. Whilst Bolton failed to win the trophy, Davies did score a final goal, and that is a moment to be proud of.
4) Getting us to Wembley
Although the less said about the actual game at Wembley the better, getting there was one of the best moments in our very recent history, one of the few bright sparks in what has other wise been a really dreary five years for Wanderers supporters. Super Kev cooly slotted a second half penalty that put us ahead 2-1, but when Kevin Phillips equalised for Birmingham City in spectacular fashion it seemed like the game would have to be resolved another day. Davies had other ideas. As Paul Robinson knocked a massive long ball into the box, Davies was there to win it, instead of going for goal he nodded the ball across the face of goal, where Chung-yong Lee laid in wait to head Bolton to Wembley and send every Bolton fan everywhere into utter delirium.
3) Becoming Captain
Upon Kevin Nolan's departure from the club, the captain's armband was up for grabs. For perhaps the one and only time in his tyrannic tenure as boss, Gary Megson made a decision that everyone agreed with - he handed the captaincy to Kevin Davies. SKD had already been at the club six or so years at that point, and since he embodied the spirit and style of the club, there really wasn't a better choice. Davies was honoured, and the fans were happy. His first game as skipper came against Tottenham Hotspur. He proved exactly why he was given the armband there and then with a brilliant performance, scoring twice in a 3-2 win. The winner being a header in which he had no less than three Spurs defenders trying to drag him down, but still managed to make contact with the ball and score regardless.
2) England Debut
I doubt there's been a moment in our recent history when a Bolton fan has felt as proud as when Kevin Davies made his debut for England, earning his one and only cap for his country. It was moment that was long over due, but half way through a season in which Davies was valiantly leading our front line he finally got the call. Coming on for the final twenty minutes against Montenegro, I challenge you to find a single Bolton fan who didn't feel like a proud father as he strolled on to the pitch, tears subtly beginning to well in the corners of their eyes. He even picked up a booking too, what a hero.
You knew this was coming, didn't you? It's the only natural and obvious choice, it's the greatest moment in our recent history and it was thanks to Kevin Davies - our most iconic player of recent times. The Whites had put on a spirited performance in the Allianz Arena, even going ahead thanks to a deflected Ricardo Gardner drive. But a Lukas Podolski double had put the German giants ahead, as they should be. Wanderers kept battling away, but nothing came of it. Then a break, a quick throw in from Andranik found Kevin Nolan in space. He flicked the ball over Lucio's head, then Jansen's before knowing the ball to Davies, who twisted his body and then lashed the ball into the back of Oliver Kahn's net.
It's probably the greatest night in Bolton Wanderers history. It's just one of the reasons why Kevin Davies will never be forgotten, no matter how many years past, his legend will live on.
So, when's the testimonial?
Did I forget any? Let me know in the comments below.