Steven Davis honoured to be made Northern Ireland captain
O’Neill yesterday appointed Davis as his country’s new skipper on the eve of his first match in charge of the side, against Norway at Windsor Park.
Aaron Hughes, who led the side for eight years, goes back into the ranks following his retirement U-turn, but O’Neill believes now is the right time for a change.
He said: “Steven Davis is the captain and he will be the captain going forward.
“I just thought at this stage of his career and, with a new manager coming in, it was maybe time and it would benefit the squad.
“It’s probably a welcome break for Steven, if nothing else. He’s away from his club and I know these are difficult days there, so to be here getting to captain his country and knowing he will do so going forward will be important to him. Hopefully it’s a welcome distraction.”
O’Neill has been struck by the manner in which Davis has responded on the field to his club’s troubles.
“The main thing I’ve seen in Steven is the level of responsibility he has taken on the pitch and in contributing to games,” the former Hibs player and Brechin manager said. “He’s always wanting to take the ball, he’s keen to be involved in the game. When things aren’t going well for the team he’s trying to initiate positive performances from others.
“I’ve no doubt he will bring the same attributes to Northern Ireland.”
Davis would not answer questions about Rangers but was happy to talk about his pride, and surprise, at being made captain.
“I thought Hughesy would come back in and get it again, and I had no qualms with that,” he said. “But the manager has decided to go with me and I’m delighted. I’m very proud.
“Even getting the opportunity to play for your country is a big thing so to l wear the armband is massive. I’m honoured to get the chance to do it. I’ve captained Rangers this season, which is something I’ve enjoyed and relished.”