by Tom Pritchard
FORMER Wales international Simon Davies has described the “out of the blue” opportunity to work with best friend Matthew Etherington at Peterborough United as “surreal”.
The ex-Tottenham Hotspur and Fulham midfielder signed for the Posh at the age of 15, where he made 50 appearances before turning 20.
After a six-year spell with Fulham, Davies retired in 2013 and took some time out of the game to reassess his options.
In January Etherington – who manages the Under-18s side – presented him with the opportunity of a reunion at the club which offered the pair their senior debuts in the late 90’s.
Davies, who reached the Europa League final with Fulham in 2010, accepted the offer and is enjoying his time in Cambridgeshire.
“It’s been brilliant,” he said.
“Myself and Matt have been best friends for 25 years or so. It’s a great thrill to be able to do it with your best mate – not many people get that opportunity.”
The 40-year-old is currently working towards his UEFA A Licence with the FAW Trust, and admitted he wasn’t always certain that he would return to football.
“When I retired I was injured so I needed a bit of time,” said Davies.
“I wasn’t totally sure that I wanted to get back in to football at first, so I needed to re-evaluate my life really. In the time I spent out, I gained some love for football again.
“After doing it for so long, I felt like I needed a breather.”
Davies, who won 58 caps for his country between 2001 and 2010, described how his first job in coaching came about.
“It was a bit surreal to be honest. When Matt went for the job last summer, I was still doing my B Licence and wasn’t really looking to go in to a club.
“Then out of the blue an opportunity came up there, he put my name forward and I was grateful that they took me on straight away.”
Davies coaches the Under-18s side, who currently sit second in the Youth Alliance Southeast Division.
“It’s gone better than we could have expected really,” he said.
“Looking back at their results over the last five or six years, they’ve generally finished down near the bottom of the league. We’ve been fortunate to have a good group of players come through this year.
“They’ve bought in to everything we’ve wanted to do, and we’re challenging for the league and want to win it because it’s important that you can breed a winning habit for the boys at that age.
“We had a recent disappointment getting knocked out of the FA Youth Cup, three of our players were with the first team, but ultimately our job is to produce players for the first team so that was nice to see.”
Working with someone he regards as a best friend has thrown up an interesting dynamic for Davies, but it’s one he has embraced and thinks has made life a lot easier in his early days as a coach.
“It’s been brilliant [working with Etherington]. Something you’re encouraged to think about on these courses is what staff you would want around you, and I think it’s so important that you have people who share the same philosophy and think the same way about the game.
“You need people who you can trust, who you can be honest with and challenge without fearing that you may upset them if you disagree with their opinions.”