We were given the opportunity to speak with Kevin Davies, a man we're obviously big fans of. When all was said and done, Kevin's answers went into great detail and were certainly from the heart. As a result, we have decided to split the interview up into more than one part. Below is the first part of the interview in which Kevin discusses a decade at Bolton Wanderers, his proudest momentes with the club, and the "dirty player" label that has been handed to him.
Lion of Vienna Suite: Your 10 year anniversary with Bolton is coming up in the summer. What were your first impressions of the club upon arriving in 2003? Did you know that it would become home for the next decade?
Kevin Davies: I must say it does not feel like ten years at Bolton Wanderers. I can remember arriving for my trial which was a bit of a fall from grace, having been sold for £7million a few years earlier! Big Sam [Allardyce] was well known for reviving a players' career and I think I fell into that category.
We went away on preseason to Bormio and I literally went there and worked my socks off trying to impress him.
The lads were great. I was put on a crash diet of no carbs and trained four times a day for the remainder of pre season. I played in some friendlies and before you know it Sam offered me a one year deal and I was walking out at Old Trafford to make my debut.
I never expected to start the season but I felt at home right away and things just clicked.
A couple of months before I began my Bolton career, I met Emma Shield in London. She later went on to become Emma Davies. I was a little lost, I suppose, when I was released by Southampton and there is not a doubt in my mind had I not met Emma I would not have made over 400 appearances for Bolton Wanderers. We have become so settled in the area and have some amazing friends and our kids love their school.
For me being happy and content off the pitch is the key to being happy on it.
LVS: For much of your career, you've been (unfairly) labelled as a "dirty player" despite receiving as many if not more hard challenges than you've handed out. Has this ever bothered you or do you entirely disregard it?
KD: In regards to my game: in ten years, I can't really think of a time when I have lost it or ever intentionally tried to hurt an opponent.
I hope once I retire people will say what a good pro I was, who always gave 100% for his club.
I guess when people have a go you have to try and take it as a backhanded compliment.
I have, as you say, been on the receiving end of some tasty challenges myself and picked up some injuries too: broken foot, fractured cheek bone, three broken fingers, and a dislocated finger. I now have a metal plate inserted in my left hand for my troubles.
I have had countless elbows, split lips, dead legs, scratches, bruises, and have frequently turned up on a Monday morning all bashed up.
I would like to think that I never complain or feign an injury to get a fellow pro in trouble. I think I can count on one hand how many times a Physio has entered the pitch to treat me and think I have only left the field of play once through injury.
LVS: After about ten years at Bolton Wanderers, do you have a favorite match that you played in? A favorite goal? What was your highest point in a Bolton shirt?
KD: Every season there has been something to battle for with this club.
If you asked me after making my debut, what I was expecting to happen at Bolton, I would probably just have said to get my career back on track and try and help keep them in the Premier League.
The first year was amazing.
Playing in the Carling Cup Final, starting every Premier League game and winning the Player of the Year was far beyond my expectations.
Qualifying for Europe twice was amazing. Beating teams like Atletico Madrid and Sporting Lisbon and playing against the likes of Marseille were unbelievable experiences for everyone at the club. Not forgetting Bayern Munich of course!
One of my proudest moments was being handed the captains armband when Kevin Nolan left. I have worn it with immense pride ever since. I remember the first game against Spurs when I managed to score the winner.
I have tried to lead the club and set a good example both on and off the pitch and will continue to do so. The club has always come first with me and we are under no illusions it is going to take an almighty effort from everyone to get us back into The Premier League.