Roy Keane’s words still cut deep as Curtis Davies eyes return to elite

Hull City's Curtis Davies, (6) celebrates scoring against Arsenal in the FA Cup final of 2014.
Hull City's Curtis Davies, (6) celebrates scoring against Arsenal in the FA Cup final of 2014.
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PROMOTION to the Premier League will mean being back in the firing line of the pundits but Curtis Davies wouldn’t have it any other way. Even if the words of a certain Roy Keane still sting two years on.

The 31-year-old will tomorrow be part of the Hull City side looking to book their return ticket to the top flight at the expense of Sheffield Wednesday.

City prevailing at Wembley would mean a return to the spotlight, both here and abroad, after 12 months in the relative wilderness of the Championship.

“It is very different in the Premier League,” said the former Tigers captain. “There is so much more attention, both in the media and from supporters.

“In the Championship, you don’t get the attention on Twitter compared to when, say, you have just played Manchester United or Liverpool. You can get hammered for a mistake or abuse because you have beaten a team if it is in the Premier League.”

Davies has this season dipped his toe in the punditry world, appearing a couple of times on Channel 5’s Football League highlights show. It is work the Londoner has enjoyed and an avenue he may pursue once his playing days are over, though the defender also plans to take his coaching badges when that time comes.

What those stints with ‘Football on 5’ have also given Davies is an insight into the life of a pundit. He still, though, can’t understand why former Manchester United captain Keane dismissed him so contemptuously during the build-up to the 2014 FA Cup final defeat to Arsenal.

“Before the Cup final, the manager (Steve Bruce) was saying things about how I should be playing for England,” recalls Davies.

“In response, Roy Keane said he thought the gaffer had been on the beer. I thought that was unnecessary. I appreciate you need a thick skin because not everyone is going to be your biggest fan.

“But it was disrespectful in terms of the form I was showing at the time. If he had said it when I was in the Championship and not playing well, fair enough. But not going into a Cup final against one of the top teams.

“The manager was trying to push me for England. That’s all. I took it with a pinch of salt. I have always said you are one man’s diamond but another man’s dog mess. It works both ways because there are times when you get high praise and think, ‘I wasn’t that good’.”

Asked about his own media ambitions, Davies, who has also appeared on Match of the Day Extra, added: “As a current player, I was a little bit protected in terms of what I was asked. It would be questions like, ‘What do you make of Sheffield Wednesday as a team?’ Rather than, ‘How bad was that foul?’ or ‘How bad was that mistake by so and so?’

“If I was retired and they were asking me a question, they might not accept me sitting on the fence. But, at the moment, they know I might be playing against these players in a couple of weeks. Or, I could be the player making that mistake.

“What I don’t like is when I listen to the TV or the radio and hear people calling players a ‘disgrace’ and things like that. When they don’t know that person.

“Fair enough, they have made a mistake.

“But that doesn’t make them a disgrace. Far from it. That is what gets footballers’ backs up.

“If we make a mistake, we know we have made it. But when you then get hammered with comments like, ‘He is a disgrace. If I was his manager, I would tear up his whatever’. They go quite over the top.

“I would always be an even keel sort of person and stick to the facts of what the mistake was. Without getting personal.”

Tomorrow will be Davies’s first time back at Wembley since putting City 2-0 up against Arsenal in the FA Cup final.

It is a moment – if not celebration – that he hopes to repeat.

“Scoring at Wembley is incredible,” he said. “It was like being a kid again.

“When you are a kid and pretending to be a No 9 in a World Cup final, that was the feeling. 
I went crazy. I celebrated like a kid.

“To this day, Arsenal fans will still pop up and tweet me, ‘Do you remember that time you scored against us in the Cup final and you thought you had won it?’

“They thought the celebration was a cheeky one. It wasn’t. Just excitement. I went ballistic. I was quite calm after James Chester scored but after mine that was impossible.

“It was almost like letting out all the tension in one celebration.

“If I score at Wembley again, I will be more composed. Though I might not be able to promise that!”