From football talent to spotting talent

Former Ajax Cape Town midfielder, Lance Davids, is one of South Africas greatest football ambassadors, having played top flight football in Germany and Belgium. He is a now an international sports consultant.

Former Bafana Bafana international Lance Davids has had an illustrious football career that started on the streets of Mitchell’s Plain.

Reminiscing on his journey that took him across Europe, Davids, 34, says he is hopeful about the future of football in SA.

The football agent hung up his boots in May 2015, however, his continued success has been in finding top talent from around the world, including none other than local footballers, Tashreeq Matthews at Borussia Dortmund and Bradley Cross at Schalke 04 respectively.

When he first appeared on our sports pages in 2004, in a shared article with AmaZulu goalkeeper Moeneeb Josephs, Davids recalls how proud his family reacted.

“Everything was new for us but they enjoyed the moment. I was still young and enjoyed every minute of the interview. It was a great time and I think of it often,” he said.

The football bug bit Davids in the streets and parks of Rocklands, Mitchell’s Plain, when he was 5, however, it was not until after they moved to Westridge at the age of 7 when he formerly joined a team, Parkhurst Ambassadors.

His late father, Godfrey, played a pivotal role in shaping Davids’ successful sporting career decisions.

“I took as much advice as I could from him. My football role model was Roy Keane.

“He was an excellent leader. As much as he took no nonsense on the field, he was extremely humble off the field,” he said.

Davids said he was representing the Western Province team at a tournament when Edgar Manuel, from Hellenic, approached his father for him to join them at training.

“When Hellenic opened The Academy in Lansdowne it was a great moment because then it was football 24/7.”

Bidvest Wits coach Gavin Hunt and the late English professional footballer, Budgie Byrne, helped Davids to secure his big breakthrough into Europe.

“I played in a friendly match with the senior team of Hellenic. Gavin Hunt gave me an opportunity when a Swiss team came to Cape Town for their pre-season. I was the youngest on the field and played like it was my last match ever and really enjoyed it. The late Budgie Byrne organised the trial at Arsenal for me,” he said.

Davids said one of his biggest highlights in Europe was when he made his debut for 1860 Munich against Bayern Munich at the age of 17.

“I enjoyed my time in Europe and was coached by good coaches and played with quality players. Youth days were great and I developed so much and learnt a lot at the youth academy.

“Making my debut against Bayern Munich was a very special moment for me.

“At Djurgarden we were unlucky to miss out on the championship in the second season but I enjoyed my time in Sweden at this fantastic club,” he said.

Davids joined Djurgårdens IF from 1860 Munich in Germany at the start of the 2006 season. On his return to SA from Djurgården IF, he played for SuperSport United (2009) and Ajax Cape Town (2013).

The former Ajax skipper said one of his biggest highlights was being a part of the 2010 World Cup national squad.

“It was great when I came back the first time because I was preparing for the 2010 World Cup and being part of the squad was the highlight of my career.

Davids is hopeful the future of football in SA, in particular in areas like Mitchell’s Plain, is on a positive growth, with more opportunities opening up for talented youngsters.

“As always, I remain hopeful for the future of football in South Africa. There are many more development opportunities available for the youngsters.

“They should never give up and always be honest with themselves. If an opportunity presents itself, be hungry and take it and remember that hard work and discipline pay off,” he said.