Growing into striker's role
CRAIG Davies admits he has done a lot of growing up as he moved from lower league football to Hellas and back again.
Wanderers’ new signing arrives at the Reebok with a rich CV, ranging from a spell in Manchester City’s youth team alongside the likes of Nedum Onuoha, Stephen Ireland and Kasper Schmiechel, to a short ill-fated move to Italy with Hellas Verona.
The journey to Bolton has seen Davies feature for 11 different professional clubs so far, but the striker insists his life on and off the pitch is in the best shape it has ever been as he prepares to turn out for a 12th this afternoon.
A father-of-two, with one on the way, the 27-year-old forward is confident he can make a success of his £300,000 move from Barnsley.
“You grow up at some stage and have some responsibility,” said the Burton-born front man, who has nine goals to his name this season. “And that has helped me mature into an adult.
“I am a lot more comfortable than I have ever been.
“I have settled in my life in the last couple of years and that has massively helped me on the pitch. “The last three years I have had to leave clubs to further my career because I have been doing well.
“I want to do well again. I am not just looking to think ‘I am here now’. I want to push again and do well for Bolton. And hopefully I am here for many years.”
Davies’s more settled personal life has also been an attraction for Dougie Freedman, who has no qualms about bringing in a player whose age defies a journeyman background.
“He’s 27 and if you look at the 270-odd games and his goal-scoring record, it stands up,” the manager said. “I haven’t got the privilege of knowing why he has moved on to all those clubs and to be honest, I’m not really bothered.
“I’m more worried about where he finds himself in life. He has a young family, two kids, and another on the way and his relationship with the wife. I feel a bit intrusive but I look very deep into these things and I feel that where he is in his life, he is ready to settle.
“He is committed to move up to Manchester and it just feels right the whole thing.”
Davies moved from City as a teenager to League Two Oxford United, and his goal record for the Wales Under-21 side attracted a bid from Italian club Verona.
The move lasted only five months, but Davies has no regrets about going abroad.
“It was hard but I would have wondered about it for the rest of my life if I hadn’t gone. It’s something I had to do to get experience,” he said. “I was quite young at the time. People may think it wasn’t that good out there but it was very professional and they looked after me very well. It’s just I was a bit homesick.
“At 19 or 20, a lot of people are still living at home and never been 10 miles from their own town or city. But I was a two-hour flight away and I did struggle.”
A catalogue of clubs followed on his return to England, but in recent seasons Davies has been a sought-after man after scoring 45 goals for Barnsley and Chesterfield since the start of the 2010/11 campaign.
He returned to the full Welsh international set-up for the first time in three-and-a-half years back in October for a friendly against Scotland and believes he can become a regular on the international scene now he has arrived on a bigger stage at the Reebok.
“The last couple of years have shown I am desperate to do well,” he said. “I just keep on trying to improve and that can take me to where I want to go.”
“I’m 100 percent it can happen again. I played in October and I can again. But I am the only one who can make that happen.”