SIR Alex Ferguson, Brian Clough and Bobby Robson, legends within football, thought well of Peter Davenport, the former Nottingham Forest, Manchester United, Middlesbrough and Sunderland star.
Los Montesinos based Steve Booth recalls wizard Davenport – playing at grass roots level – before the big boys came knocking on his door.
“Opposition teams, hard men, rough and ready, the type that wouldn’t think twice of ‘putting one on you’ couldn’t even stop Peter from scoring goals,” said Steve.
“Peter played on the Wirral in Sunday League Football, aged 15. It was while playing grass roots level that he was spotted by scouts from Nottingham Forest,” said Steve.
Davenport played park football in the seventies, and Steve said: “Peter was an outstanding talent in those days.”
Davenport, born in Birkenhead, was spotted playing for Cammell Laird in the West Cheshire league.
The ‘fee’ Forest offered Cammell Laird for his signature was a brand new football kit – which they accepted!
Davenport, who went on to be Forest’s leading goalscorer for two seasons, also played in the UEFA Cup semi-final against Anderlecht in 1984. Forest lost 3–2 on aggregate.
Davenport, capped for England in a 2–1 friendly against the Republic of Ireland in 1985, joined Manchester United in 1986 for £750,000.
Davenport came on as a substitute, with England chief Bobby Robson inadvertently saying to assistant Don Howe: “We better put ‘Devonshire’ on”. Howe replied: “It’s Davenport”.
Old Trafford boss Ron Atkinson signed Davenport, as a replacement to Mark Hughes, who was on the verge of joining Barcelona.
Davenport found himself playing under Ferguson at United in 1986, when Atkinson was sacked.
In 1987 Davenport finished the season as United’s top scorer, bagging 16 goals.
Davenport joined Middlesbrough in 1988 in a £750,000 transfer, later moving to Sunderland.
Davenport went on to play at Airdrieonians, St Johnstone, Stockport County and Southport, where he was Caretaker manager, joining Macclesfield as a player – scoring his 100th league goal against Exeter in 1998.
Davenport, who went on to coach rugby and teach at St Anselms College in Birkenhead, said: “Playing for England was a proud moment – the pinnacle of my career.
“Playing under Brian Clough ‘Cloughie’, who always called everyone ‘young man’, was like being with a father figure.
“Cloughie took me under his wing and was a big influence during my career. He desperately wanted you to do well. I’d run through a brick wall for him.
“I played under Alex Ferguson for two years, at the time he was rebuilding the United dynasty.
“Ferguson had an incredible drive – but for me Cloughie was the better manager. Under Brian Clough and Sir Alex Ferguson I had a fantastic enjoyable career.
“It was a privilege to wear the famous red of both Nottingham Forest and Manchester United – and proud to play for England.”
Reflecting back to Davenport’s early career Steve Booth, 64, born in Birkenhead, said over a beer in Montesinos: “Peter Davenport learnt his trade against tough teams, in park Sunday League football.
“He’d be scythed down – get up – and carry on to score goals! They simply couldn’t stop him. He was scoring 30 goals a season.”