Edgar Davids: The midfielder who fell to earth

Joshua Byers

Football has provided us many a cool character throughout the years, from Brazilian playboy Heleno de Freitas right up to Jay Spearing in the modern age. Ask any child of the 90s which player had the most swag, however, and you’ll hear one named mentioned constantly.

Anyone who played PES or FIFA in the last decade of the 20th century remembers that vicarious feeling of smoothness experienced when picking up the ball with Edgar Davids. The glasses, the dreads, the chutzpah: It was as though David Bowie had created an avatar and put him in the game.

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This wasn’t a figure propelled to fame by appearance alone, though. Davids was like Jeff Buckley, with an image that turned heads but the talent to keep them engaged.

His talent was such that it is difficult to say where he actually played. A deep-lying position and determination that led to the nickname ‘The Pitbull’ meant that it is reasonable to categorize him as a defensive-midfielder.

Then you consider the vision and shooting prowess, and are inclined to think again. Just look at this screamer knocking out a young Heurelho Gomes if you needed a reminder of his ability to strike the ball.

It was this combination of talent and tenacity, combined with his standout image, which led to Davids being such a fan favourite, achieving success and admirers around Europe.

Most famously, he was part of the 1994/95 Ajax side that is remembered as one of the best ever to play football.

Davids and a host of fellow Dutch stars, including Frank Rijkaard and Clarence Seedorf as well as the young Nigerian Nwankwo Kanu, went unbeaten in the league and overcame AC Milan to be crowned European champions.

He then moved to Milan but failed to settle, resulting in a transfer to Juventus where he formed a memorable partnership with Zinedine Zidane. There, he won three Scudetti before playing for Barcelona, Inter Milan, Tottenham and Ajax once more.

Image Source: Twitter

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That list of clubs may exude glamour, but the 44-year-old went on to prove that he was no elitist – making a surprising switch to Crystal Palace in 2010.

Not content with dropping down to the Championship, Davids then made a move unprecedented for somebody of his standing, moving to Barnet to be player-manager. He also spent time managing Brixton United while living in London. Heroic stuff.

Predictably, the Dutchman now busies himself running a fashion label, Monta Soccer. He’s also said to be a big chess fan and quite the player.

The antithesis of the typical démodé English player, but having proved he can rough it with the gutsiest of them, Davids will forever hold a place in our hearts both for his unique, almost extra-terrestrial appearance and his fantastic ability.

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