While many English Premier League clubs look abroad for new talent nowadays, Tottenham are still investing a lot of time and cash in seeking out the best young players from the domestic lower divisions.
The capture of Simon Davies, along with Matthew Etherington (now an England Under-21), from Peterborough in January 2000is yielding the biggest rewards.
A star on the right flank, 23-year-old Davies has taken his excellent club form on to the international stage with Wales, and was a key figure in the 2-1 Euro 2004 defeat of Italy last October.
“Peterborough was a fantastic place to start my career,” says Davies.
“Barry Fry is a great manager to work with and he looked after Matthew and me. He gave us the chance to settle into the game and didn’t stand in our way when we got a good move. Tottenham are going places and I’m delighted to be a part of it.”
A stylish mover on the ball, Davies has the pace, skill and confidence to take on the best, yet it has taken him a couple of years to firmly establish himself as a star at White Hart Lane, time other clubs are not willing to afford.
“Some Premiership clubs do not look at grooming young players, but that’s not the case at Tottenham,” he says.
“I started last season on the bench and felt I did quite well when the first-team chance came. I owe this club and our manager, Glenn Hoddle, a lot.”
As for Wales, Davies has even been putting Ryan Giggs in the shade. After a sensational goal against Croatia in an August friendly and adding another against Finland in Helsinki, his crowning glory came against the Italians in Cardiff as he put his country on the way to victory by opening the scoring.
“It had been a long time since a Wales side went into a match like that, against one of the biggest nations in the world, thinking we could win,” reflects Davies, who was part of the side that made it three wins out of three in the Euro 2004 qualifiers against Azerbaijan in November.
“But that’s the vibe in the squad now. Our manager, Mark Hughes, has done a great job. We all believe this is our chance to qualify for a major championship. This is still a young side, so maybe the 2006 World Cup will be our time, but we have put ourselves in pole position to qualify for Euro 2004.”
The finals in Portugalwould undoubtedly be a better competition if the fresh and exciting Wales side complete their qualification story – and Davies can stake his claim to be the most exciting of them all.
Club Tottenham (Eng)
Born October 23, 1979, in Haverfordwest
Previous club Peterborough (Eng)
International debut March 2001, v Ukraine
International caps 12 (3 goals)