Is Bangor City's winger the best player in Europe?
Leslie Davies makes UEFA's 32-man shortlist
18 July ~ "He doesn't even have a Wikipedia page," fumed the Twitterati as word spread that Bangor City player Leslie Davies had been included on a shortlist for UEFA's Best Player in Europe award. Retweeting both dissenting voices and bewildered but delighted Bangor fans, the club later announced that Davies had been the number one trending topic on the social networking site. The list was created from a jury of journalists from UEFA's 53 member nations. The 27-year-old Davies was picked by grassroots football expert Dave Jones, of the North Wales Daily Post.
How dare Jones vote for a player he has watched excel for many years? "How dare the Welsh vote for one of their own," they fumed on Twitter. Davies, a former Wales Under-21 player, is an attacking winger who strikes fear into Welsh Premier League (WPL) defences with his battering-ram body and unstoppable runs. His haul of 16 goals in 31 WPL games last term may not look overly impressive, but he focuses on bringing the ball in from the wings and providing chances for others.
I once had a chat with Alan Payne, the assistant manager of Conference South side Sutton United, and as soon as I revealed a connection to Bangor (my father grew up watching the club), he started talking about "big Les Davies".
City's part-timers work wonders to prosper in a league that usually contains two or three full-time professional clubs. Davies, known as "the Truck", was an integral part of the side that won the title in 2010-11 and took the battle with eventual champions TNS down to the final day of last season.
I saw how much the Bangor fans love him first-hand when I attended the 2009 Welsh Cup final. The Blues beat Aberystwyth Town 2-0 and, although 'the truck" was forced off injured, supporters continuously let rip with a chant that was barely printable, ending in "Les Davies is Bangor's number nine".
As a big name in the Welsh Premier League, Davies has every right to appear on the shortlist. Whether he will be voted into the final three, which is announced on August 14, remains to be seen. Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo will not have lost any sleep worrying that their names appeared alongside a player who doesn't even have a Wikipedia page. Andy Lloyd-Williams