BY IAIN COLLIN – @CCP_sport
FORMER Rangers skipper Steven Davis has been dubbed ‘Northern Ireland’s Cristiano Ronaldo’ ahead of tonight’s Euro 2016 kick-off.
Davis will captain his country in France, where Michael O’Neill’s underdogs will open their campaign with a Group C clash with Poland in Nice on Sunday.
The 31-year-old, who spent four and a half years at Ibrox before joining Southampton in 2012, played a pivotal role in Northern Ireland reaching the tournament and will be key to their hopes of progressing from a tough pool that also includes world champions Germany and Ukraine.
And the former Aston Villa and Fulham midfielder’s star quality in a modest squad has been likened to that of Real Madrid icon Ronaldo.
Former England midfielder Jermaine Jenas told the BBC: “Steven Davis is a very nice footballer and sometimes very underrated, I feel.
“He’s always gone about his business, from when he was a young lad at Villa, going up to Rangers and now plying his trade at Southampton.
“He’s had a really good season at Southampton. He’s one of those midfielders who can play anywhere, technically he’s very gifted, he goes by players and he can see a pass.
“To this Northern Ireland side, he might as well be Ronaldo because, with all respect, the players that are in and around him are not on his level, they’re just not.
“He’s a Premier League player, he’s a top-end player and they do all they can to make sure they get the best out of Steven Davis.
“I think that’s one of their really good traits that hopefully they’ll focus on and will enable them to do what they dream of doing in this tournament.”