Complex Davis was a Great Escape artist at Pompey

Sean Davis celebrates his goal against West Ham during the Great Escape
Sean Davis celebrates his goal against West Ham during the Great Escape

The moment probably slipped under the radar for most Pompey fans.

Entirely excusable considering the Fratton Park distractions which continue to occupy everyone’s focus.

Backs have been turned while eyes remained fixed upon the takeover soap opera.

In the meantime, barely anyone noticed the retirement of Sean Davis.

Davis quit Pompey in the summer of 2009 when his contract expired – joining Bolton.

He went on to make just eight more career appearances before calling it a day last month.

Injuries ravaged Davis’ post-Blues life to the extent that he has quit at the age of 33.

A sad finale for a player who was such an integral part of the Blues’ memorable Great Escape.

Davis will never be talked about by the Fratton faithful in the same glowing terms as many of his team-mates from that period.

He won’t ever be invited to take his place in the Pompey Hall of Fame.

He had his critics and perhaps the way he portrayed himself off the field didn’t help.

Davis was a complex, cocksure character, likeable one moment, objectionable the next.

He sulked and snarled around the place when out of the side, yet was the life and soul of the dressing room when in it.

Nonetheless, over three-and-a-half seasons he played a massive part in Pompey’s fortunes.

And for his input alone in the second half of the 2005-06 campaign, he deserves to be given a fitting tribute following retirement.

True, Pedro Mendes inspired it, Benjani Mwaruwari provided the heart and Matt Taylor the crucial penalty at Wigan.

But Davis was the legs, the guts and the passion in the Great Escape.

He arrived in a triple transfer swoop from Spurs, along with Mendes and Noe Pamarot in January 2006.

Initially they struggled to make an impression to the point where Davis was dropped against Chelsea after six matches.

He returned the following fixture at Aston Villa, a match Pompey lost 1-0.

Suddenly there was a growing clamour for Redknapp to be sacked – at Villa Park one banner said as much.

Skipper Dejan Stefanovic was taken into Milan Mandaric’s confidence and told in no uncertain terms failure to beat Manchester City would see Redknapp sacked.

The players were relayed that same message. The pressure was on.

On March 11, 2006, Pompey and Redknapp needed saving.

Mendes duly obliged with two goals during that iconic Fratton Park match.

Alongside him in the midfield that day was Davis – and that would remain the case for the remainder of the campaign.

The following match Redknapp’s side won at West Ham, with Davis grabbing the second goal in a 4-2 triumph.

That proved to be one of just three goals in his 116 Pompey appearances.

The former Fulham man had suffered from knee problems throughout his career.

His inaction at White Hart Lane before his arrival ensured match fitness was a huge concern.

But Davis came good and in a remarkable end-of-season run the Blues stayed up in the Premier League with a game to spare.

It was only upon the entrance of Lassana Diarra two seasons later the Clapham-born midfielder lost his regular spot.

Then again, for many, Diarra was one of Pompey’s finest players in the modern era.

Davis didn’t even make the bench for the FA Cup final victory over Cardiff in May 2008.

He was one of only two players who didn’t attend the following day’s historic festivities in the city.

The other was Milan Baros, who had to instead fly out for international duty with the Czech Republic.

Davis refused to accompany his team-mates.

He failed to turn up without a word of pre-warning.

Later he revealed he didn’t think it was appropriate considering his lack of involvement.

That was Davis, entirely unpredictable.

One trick he would often pull on a match day would be to pretend to be on the telephone to avoid signing autographs.

He was even known to exaggeratingly stagger around the training ground upon receiving his pay slip as if it were some incredibly heavy weight in his arms.

This was done in front of employees.

Some days, the former Spurs man could be very pleasant and good company. Some days.

Davis’ last Pompey appearance was on May 18, 2009, during a 3-1 Fratton victory over Sunderland.

Rather fitting it was a match which kept the Blues in the Premier League.

Paul Hart was manager at the time in a season which included three bosses.

Davis also featured in every match of the Uefa Cup run that season.

That summer he left – joining the exodus of players as the club reached meltdown.

Now Davis has become the third member of that glorious 2006 squad to retire, following Stefanovic and Linvoy Primus.

Nowhere near as popular as such figures, nonetheless he contributed to one of the greatest escapes of all in Pompey history.