Steven Davis: Rangers POTY lifts lid on diet, training and one man who has helped him so much
Steven Davis has credited Rangers manager Steven Gerrard for giving him the platform to be crowned Scotland’s Player of the Year.
At the age of 36, Davis has become the first Rangers player to win the prestigious Scottish Football Writers’ Association award since David Weir in 2010.
The midfielder topped the poll ahead of team-mates and fellow nominees Allan McGregor, James Tavernier and Connor Goldson in a memorable Premiership-winning season for the Ibrox club.
Second time around
Northern Ireland captain Davis – the first from his country to win the SFWA award in its 57-year history – has flourished in the second spell of his career with Rangers.
He believes Gerrard is responsible for the hugely influential role he has been able to play as the fulcrum of the team over the course of the campaign.
“The manager deserves huge praise from me personally,” says Davis. “When you are setting up a team, you recognise the attributes that individuals have and try to find a system that works for them.
“The way we play in midfield and the role I am asked to play certainly suits my attributes and gives me the platform to perform to my best level and show what I can do.
“I thoroughly enjoy playing in that role, the way we are set up and the players I have around me allows me to show my best qualities so the manager and his coaching staff have to take huge credit for that and of course just giving me that belief as well.
“There's nothing more that a player can ask for than the manager's trust, you've got to gain that but whenever you have that, it's a great feeling.”
Evolve and adapt
Davis has signed a new one-year contract with Rangers and has reflected on the adaptations he has made through the years to extend his career at the top level with both club and country.
"It probably comes with education and experience,” he adds. “The game's always evolving, the level of information you get. My diet and the way I train has changed over the years.
"I would never say my diet was bad but just understanding when to eat carbs, protein, all the information you get around nutrition. I wouldn't say it's been extreme in terms of the changes I've made but it's certainly eating the right foods at the right times more so now than I would have in the early days of my career.
“I also go back to the (first) lockdown (last year) and the worry I had at this stage of my career was it was the first time having that break, you try to do everything you think is right, you don't know whether it's enough or too much, it's getting that balance.
“Thankfully, I came back for pre-season in a good place and I have carried that on and, touch wood, been lucky with injuries this season and been able to play more games than I imagined I would have. I feel good, you certainly know your body as you get older and I am just trying to do the right things to keep myself performing.”
Milestones and memories
It has been a remarkable season all round for Davis who also became the most-capped British player of all time when he won his 126th cap for Northern Ireland in March, eclipsing the previous record held by legendary former England goalkeeper Peter Shilton.
But he regards his most memorable moment of the campaign as the overhead kick goal he scored in the 2-0 Scottish Cup fourth round win over Celtic at Ibrox in April.
"A lot of things came to fruition this year, in terms of records I've been able to break, but it was a special moment getting that overhead kick,” he says with a smile.
“The gaffer is still wondering what I was doing in the box at that particular time, with the role I play these days! I tried to break forward and the ball sat up nicely for me, so I decided to have a go and thankfully I didn't embarrass myself and it went in the back of the net.
“To score any Old Firm goal is special and to get one like that will certainly stick in my memory, I can't remember too many like that in training, never mind my career. I was getting plenty of text messages asking if my back was alright afterwards from my friends but the body is feeling good and that's the main thing."
First among equals
In a season when the Player of the Year nominees all came from Rangers, Davis is especially gratified to win the honour.
“I’m absolutely delighted as it wasn't something I was ever thinking about,” he adds. “At the start of the season you just want to try and make an impact and try to do your best.
“It is all about trying to be successful and the season has gone so well for me. It is great to be recognised in terms of your efforts.
"It could have been any of the ones nominated or even beyond that from our team. It's been such a strong season as a group and as individuals. I'd probably have voted for Allan McGregor but there's also James Tavernier, Connor Goldson and Ryan Kent. There's too many to name. I wouldn't like to be making that decision. I'm just thankful I've been chosen and I'm delighted to get the award.”
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